Google wants companies to cross-license patents

Google offers four options for patent cross-licensing between companies

By Loek Essers, IDG News Service |  IT Management

--A Field-of-Use Agreement similar to the Open Invention Network (OIN) cross-license approach, under which patents are licensed royalty free to any company, institution or individual that agrees not to assert its patents against the Linux System. The OIN license is a community-wide license; the major difference between OIN and the non-sticky DPL is that it has a certain scope. In OIN's case that is the Linux System, whereas the non-sticky DPL is a portfolio-wide license, Google said. A Field-of-Use Agreement similar to OIN could be useful and be applied to other areas of technology as well, Google said.

Google is conducting a survey to determine which of the approaches is of greatest interest to operating companies. Interested companies have until April 19 to let Google know if they are interested, and once the survey is complete, Google plans to reach out to those companies to discuss potential next steps.

"This straw poll seems to seek ideas aimed at reducing patent litigation. The motivations are noble; reducing litigation should be a global goal, since top technology companies are now spending more on patent acquisition and litigation than they are spending on research & development (R&D)," said James Waterworth, vice president, Europe for the Computer and Communications Industry Association (CCIA), an organization that represents a wide range of companies in the computer, Internet, information technology and telecommunications industries, in an email on Wednesday. The CCIA advises members and policy makers on issues including intellectual property, international trade and Internet regulation.

"Reducing patent assertions and improving companies' freedom to bring innovative products to market is a useful goal; whether this particular effort achieves that remains to be seen," Waterworth added.

Loek is Amsterdam Correspondent and covers online privacy, intellectual property, open-source and online payment issues for the IDG News Service. Follow him on Twitter at @loekessers or email tips and comments to loek_essers@idg.com

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