Google has stepped up its campaign against patent trolls by luring in startups with patents and freebies.
To clarify, patent trolls are companies that sue over patent infringement without actually creating any products themselves.
Google has created a new initiative, the Patent Starter Program, which will welcome in 50 eligible startups. In order to qualify, the startups must be in a similar line of business as Google, and have 2014 revenue of between $500,000 and $20 million.
Once enrolled, these small businesses will be given two free patents. However, these can only be chosen from a shortlist of 3-5 relevant patents picked out by Google.
In addition to these, startups will be given a free two-year membership to the License on Transfer (LOT) Network, a relatively new group designed to make it easier for firms to sell patents to Google, as well as shield members from trolls.
Members of the LOT Network are required to give all other members a royalty-free license to any patent that is transferred to an outside party. This effectively protects LOT members from threats over those patents, if they were to end up in the hands of a patent troll.
"The bigger the network gets, the more protection the membership gets against future attacks from patent trolls," says Google.
There are a few catches though.
Google would retain a license to any patent it gives away, while participants must remain LOT Network members for two years. If they chose to defect any earlier, they would also lose the patents.
The LOT Network is currently made up of 21 members, including Dropbox, SAP and Uber.
For more information on the Patent Starter Program, follow this link.