In an interesting move on Thursday, Microsoft announced the expansion of its Azure IP Advantage program which acts as a shield for new startups against patent trolls, as reported by TechCrunch. This latest program will also provide startups in the IoT arena to connect to Azure with access to 10,000 patents to defend themselves against intellectual property infringements and lawsuits.
The most important aspect of this whole process is that Microsoft is also donating 500 patents to startups in LOT network which is an organization with companies like Amazon, Microsoft, Facebook, Google, Netflix and others among its 150 members. The main aim of this organization is to protect startups from patent trolls by giving them access to a wide array of patents from its members.
Speaking to TechCrunch, Microsoft CVP and Deputy General Counsel Erich Andersen said:
“The LOT Network is really committed to helping address the proliferation of intellectual property losses, especially ones that are brought by trolls.”
Andersen also explains that this whole process goes beyond providing basic protection from patent trolls. According to him, the qualified startups who join the LOT Network can easily acquire Microsoft patents as part of the free membership program and they can own the patents outright.
There’s one additional rider here which says that in order to qualify for these patents, the startups also have to meet a $1,000 per month Azure spend. “We want to help the LOT Network grow its network of startups. To provide an incentive, we are going to provide these patents to them,” Andersen adds.
It is worthwhile to note here that any Azure customer who has spent more than $1000 per month in the past three months and has not filed a lawsuit against another Azure customer is eligible to pick up one patent form the Azure IP Advantage program’s portfolio. It’s as simple as that.