Microsoft joins the LOT Network to help fight patent trolls

The LOT Network has been around for a few years now. Its mission is to fight patent trolls and it does so by having all of its members commit to a pledge that ensures that whenever they sell a patent to a company thats in the business of patent trolling, all of the members will automatically get a free license to the patent.
Current members include the likes of Google, Facebook, Amazon, Slack, GitHub, Cisco, Canon, Lenovo, Netflix, Alibaba, Crate & Barrel (yep) and most major car manufacturers, including Tesla. More than 300 organizations are now part of LOT and today, Microsoft is joining the fray.
The way the organization works is that all of the members sign a license agreement that in essence says that theyre providing a license to each other, such that if they were ever to transfer a patent to another company, that if that company is in essentially the business of asserting patents thats basically what it does for business then the rest of the members in the network would get a license for free automatically, Microsofts Chief IP Counsel Erich Andersen told me. He noted that its a way to reduce the risk of patent assertionat a community scale.
Projects like LOT seem to have had an impact over the course of the last few years as the number of the kinds of patent lawsuits at least hasnt increased in recent years.
Obviously, it took a while for Microsoft to join LOT. Andersen, though, noted that the companys Azure IP Advantagealready provided protection against intellectual property risks for Microsofts cloud customers. One pillar of [Azure IP Advantage] was related to this, he explained. We basically said to our Azure customers:if we ever transfer a patent to one of these patent assertion companies, then youll automatically get a license from us for that patent, and you dont need to worry about it. Joining the LOT Network thenis essentially the next step for Microsoft in that it provides similar protections not just to its own customers but anybody who signs up for the network and accepts its pledge (and startups can join for free, for example).
Andersen admits that the patent troll problem isnt as acute today as it was only a few years ago, but he notes that its still a widespread issue.
By joining, Microsoft itself also gets the same kind of protections for itself. Just as were giving a commitment to everybody in the LOT Network that theyll get a license to our patents if we transfer them to a non-practicing entity [aka, a patent troll], we get the same commitment coming the other direction.
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