Google announces Patent Purchase Promotion

So today we’re announcing the Patent Purchase Promotion as an experiment to remove friction from the patent market. From May 8, 2015 through May 22, 2015, we’ll open a streamlined portal for patent holders to tell Google about patents they’re willing to sell at a price they set. As soon as the portal closes, 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.


So instead of selling your patent to a troll, you sell it to Google (while retaining a license to the patent yourself), who can then license it out as it pleases, and, of course, also sue people with it. Are we supposed to believe Google would never abuse its patents? So far, it’s got a pretty good track record when it comes to patent abuse – unlike its major competitors such as Microsoft and Apple – but I would place no faith in this always staying this way.

At least former Electronic Frontier Foundation senior staff attorney Julie Samuels is cautiously optimistic, which is something. She told Ars:

“Google’s patent purchase program is promising to the extent it puts patents that could end up in the hands of trolls into Google’s own patent portfolio,” she said by e-mail. “While it’s frankly troubling that a single entity would own as many patents as Google already does (and presumably will), this is an unfortunate byproduct of a broken patent system and a technology culture that often prioritizes the grant of patents above all else. Google has time and again shown its commitment to clean up the patent system, which is cause for some cautious optimism with regard to its new purchase program.”

Well, something’s better than nothing, I guess.


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