In an effort to shut down patent trolls, one of the tech world’s worst problems and roadblocks towards progress, Google has announced its Patent Purchase Promotion. Described on its Public Policy Blog as “an experimental marketplace,” the promotion looks to give patent holders an easier way to unload patents for cash without working with trolls who tie innovators up in litigation. As a nice bonus, Google will get to increase its own patent portfolio—and, of course, this may not be quite as altruistic as the company might like us to believe.
According to the post, the promotion will have a window during which Google will take sales pitches on patents folks are looking to sell along with how much they’d like for them. The portal opens starting on May 8 and closes a couple weeks later on May 22, 2015.
“As soon as the portal closes,” says the post,” we’ll review all the submissions, and let the submitters know whether we’re interested in buying their patents by June 26, 2015. If we contact you about purchasing your patent, we’ll work through some additional diligence with you and look to close a transaction in short order. We anticipate everyone we transact with getting paid by late August.”
As you’ve probably heard, patent trolls are something of a problem. Though the blanket term doesn’t do much to shed too much light on what they are, it offers an easy shorthand for certain types of companies that don’t actually do anything other than buy people’s patents, then find ways to litigate against others for cash. One example of patent trolling at its worst is the case of Personal Audio, which took aim at podcasting by claiming it owned the patent for technology that sends audio to people over the Internet—which, of course, it really didn’t. The courts have recently taken care of them, and the Federal Government passed a bit of legislation a few years ago to try and curb others.
Still, it’s a problem that’s still in need of fighting, and it’s nice that Google is looking to offer a solution. On the other hand, there’s something a little troubling about a company like Google offering to take those old patents off your hand to stop other companies from abusing them in court. There’s really no reason that Google couldn’t do just the same. The only upside here is that Google probably doesn’t actually need to litigate on old patents since it earns plenty of money the old fashioned way: by providing services and products to people in exchange for currency. But still, beware Trojans bearing gifts…