Last week, Google announced the “Open Patent Non-Assertion Pledge,” saying that it pledges not to sue any user, distributor or developer of open-source software on specified patents, unless first attacked.
Today, Google took to its Public Policy Blog to declare, “It’s time to take action against patent trolls and patent privateering.”
The company submitted comments with BlackBerry, EarthLink and Red Hat to the FTC and DoJ regarding what is deemed as “the growing harm caused by patent assertion entities”.
Google Senior Competition Counsel Matthew Bye writes:
Trolls use the patents they receive to sue with impunity—since they don’t make anything, they can’t be countersued. The transferring company hides behind the troll to shield itself from litigation, and sometimes even arranges to get a cut of the money extracted by troll lawsuits and licenses.
Privateering lets a company split its patent portfolio into smaller sub-portfolios “stacked” on each other, increasing the number of entities a firm must negotiate with and multiplying licensing costs. This behavior unfairly raises competitors’ costs, ultimately driving up prices for consumers.
It also undermines incentives for companies to work together towards “patent peace” through good-faith negotiation and cross-licensing. If cross-licensing is nuclear deterrence for patents, then privateering has the opposite effect, facilitating patent proliferation and aggression.
Google is encouraging other companies to work with them to develop cooperative licensing agreements, and is urging the FTC and DoJ to continue studying “abusive troll litigation”.