Menu
Pure Storage VP: 'Something had to be done' about patent trolls

Pure Storage VP: 'Something had to be done' about patent trolls

The LOT Network offers members protection against frivolous lawsuits

Companies lose billions each year defending themselves against patent trolls, and the problem is only getting worse. Pure Storage is one of a growing number of organizations that are working to do something about it.

"These litigations drain a lot of money out of the innovation economy," said Joe FitzGerald, vice president and general counsel for the vendor of enterprise flash storage. "When you're spending on litigation, you're not spending on innovation," FitzGerald said in a recent interview.

Aiming to combat the problem, Pure and dozens of other companies have joined together through the LOT Network.

Patent trolls, known more formally as patent assertion entities, are companies that acquire patents for the sole purpose of filing lawsuits against other companies. A whopping 84 percent of all high-tech patent lawsuits filed each year are the work of patent trolls, according to the LOT Network.

More than 10,000 companies have been the victim at least once, with an average cost of $3.2 million. Many of them can little afford it: Roughly half the victim companies earn less than $10 million in annual revenue.

When FitzGerald joined Pure Storage from Symantec back in 2013, he was struck by the scope of the problem. The U.S. patent system dates back to "the days of horse and buggy," he said. "It was clear something had to be done."

Plenty of efforts are currently under way to modernize the system on a government level, but LOT members aren't holding their breath. Instead, they've signed an agreement that offers some immunity against lawsuits filed by patent trolls.

Whenever a member of the nonprofit network sells a patent to a patent troll, all other members are given automatic protection from litigation for the life of that patent.

Any company, university or inventor can join the LOT Network, whether or not they own any patents. Members also pay a yearly fee based on their company's annual revenue, with no cost for startups with annual revenue of less than $5 million.

LOT members can still use their patents as they choose -- the network is by no means anti-patent, FitzGerald stressed.

"At my company, we believe in strong IP protection -- we now have over 500 patents or patent applications," he said. "But we wanted to find a way to address the systemic issues."

LOT was originally formed back in 2014, and Pure Storage was involved early. Today, the network offers protection on almost 600,000 patents. Google, Uber, Ford, Dropbox, CBS, Netflix, Red Hat and SAP are also members.

"We're at the point now where it's starting to have an impact," FitzGerald said. "This should be a no-brainer for any company that's optimizing for innovation and growth."

Follow Us

Join the New Zealand Reseller News newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Slideshows

Top 50 defining moments of the New Zealand channel in 2016

Top 50 defining moments of the New Zealand channel in 2016

Reseller News looks back on a tumultuous 12 months for the New Zealand channel, assessing the fallout from a year of sizeable industry change. Whether it be local or global mergers and acquisitions, distribution deals or job changes, the channel that started the year differs somewhat to the one set to finish it - Reseller News assesses the key moments that made 2016.​

Top 50 defining moments of the New Zealand channel in 2016
​Hewlett Packard Enterprise honours high achieving NZ channel

​Hewlett Packard Enterprise honours high achieving NZ channel

Hewlett Packard Enterprise honoured its top performing Kiwi partners at the second running of its HPE Partner Awards in New Zealand, held at a glitzy ceremony in Auckland. Recognising excellence across eight categories - from distributors to resellers - the tech giant celebrated its first year as a standalone company, following its official split from HP in 2015.

​Hewlett Packard Enterprise honours high achieving NZ channel
Nutanix treats channel partners to Christmas cruise

Nutanix treats channel partners to Christmas cruise

Nutanix recently took to the seas for a Christmas Cruise around Sydney Harbour with its Australia and New Zealand staff, customers and partners to celebrate a stellar year for the vendor. With the sun out, they were all smiles and mingled over drinks and food.

Nutanix treats channel partners to Christmas cruise
Show Comments