Allen Lo, Deputy General Counsel for Patents at Google, published a blog announcing the launch of the Patent Purchase Promotion, an experimental marketplace where businesses and individuals can sell their patents to Google. Why? Because the company wants to remove "friction" from the patent market.
"Unfortunately, the usual patent marketplace can sometimes be challenging, especially for smaller participants who sometimes end up working with patent trolls," Lo said in the blog. "Then bad things happen, like lawsuits, lots of wasted effort, and generally bad karma. Rarely does this provide any meaningful benefit to the original patent owner."
A patent troll is a company or an individual that scoops up patents for the sole purpose of collecting license fees from patent infringers. These businesses and individuals typically have nothing in common with the patents they purchase, but are instead seeking to make money based on lawsuits and the aforementioned licensing fees.
Here's how Google's promotion will work: The company will open up the marketplace between May 8 and May 22, 2015. During that time, patent holders will head to a special portal and make pitches to Google that will include a description and what sellers want, financially. After May 22, Google will close the portal and review every submission. Google will then contact patent owners by June 26, 2015 if the company is interested in buying the submitted patent.
"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," Lo added.
Google provided an FAQ in pdf format, stating that all patents purchased by Google will be shoved into its patent portfolio and used by the company like any other patent. However, the former patent owner can still use the invention as part of Google's Patent Acquisition Agreement (pdf). Patent sellers will get paid via an ACH transfer that's sent directly to their bank account.
Right now, Google is only accepting submissions within the U.S. If there's a high level of interest, the company may launch another submissions window that will include patents owned outside the country.
"By simplifying the process and having a concentrated submission window, we can focus our efforts into quickly evaluating patent assets and getting responses back to potential sellers quickly," Lo said. "Hopefully this will translate into better experiences for sellers, and remove the complications of working with entities such as patent trolls."
Is Google really wanting to ease the friction in the patent market, or is the company simply beefing up its own portfolio to battle the likes of Microsoft, Apple and other large companies?