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Google, Cisco, and others band together against patent trolls

Allied Security Trust is trying to buy out the patent trolls. Will it succeed?

Matt Asay Contributing Writer
Matt Asay is a veteran technology columnist who has written for CNET, ReadWrite, and other tech media. Asay has also held a variety of executive roles with leading mobile and big data software companies.
Matt Asay

The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Google, Cisco, Hewlett-Packard, Ericsson, Verizon, and others are joining together to buy up patents to prevent the patents being used against them by patent trolls. The group, called the Allied Security Trust, is a bit like the open-source friendly Open Invention Network, but appears to have more cash at its disposal.

The new Allied Security Trust aims to buy patents that others might use to bring infringement claims against its members. Companies will pay roughly $250,000 to join the group and will each put about $5 million into escrow with the organization, to go toward future patent purchases, the people familiar with the initiative said....[C]ompanies in the new group will sell the patents they acquire after they have granted themselves a nonexclusive license to the underlying technology.

Allied Security Trust isn't intended to be a revenue generator for the companies involved, but rather a protective shield against patent trolls big (Intellectual Ventures, which was recently torched in The New Yorker) and small (Acacia).

Will it succeed? Who knows? But any efforts intended to bring some sanity to the patent-litigation racket are very welcome.