Google today announced in a blog post on its Public Policy Blog that it has asked the Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Justice to investigate and take a stronger stance against patent privateering and patent assertion entities, aka patent trolls. Google linked to a document submitted to the government agencies mentioned above and noted that BlackBerry, Earthlink and RedHat are among other companies backing the request.
Within its post, Google’s Senior Competition Counsel Matthew Bye cited losses of nearly $30 billion a year in the U.S. due to patent trolls and urged companies to help Google create “cooperative licensing agreements that can help curb privateering.”
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.
Google described patent privateering as companies selling “patents to trolls with the goal of waging asymmetric warfare against its competitors.” While it didn’t name any companies specifically in its blog post or document submitted to the FTC, it did link to an article on Bloomberg that mentions Microsoft, Nokia, and Alcatel-Lucent as companies linked to patent privateering.
In the document submitted to the FTC, Google outlined its stance on patent trolls and recommended the FTC initiate an investigation into patent assertion entities and or expand its broader inquiry to include a number of important areas specifically related to patent privateering:
We accordingly recommend that the FTC employ its authority under Section 6(b) of the FTC Act, 15 U.S.C. § 46, to initiate an inquiry into the relationship between PAEs and operating companies – whether as a discrete topic or as part of a broader Section 6(b) inquiry into PAEs. A Section 6(b) inquiry will enable the Commission to probe this important area and answer many important questions.
You can read Google’s full document submitted to the FTC and DOJ here.