Microsoft announced Thursday (March 28) that it is expanding its Azure IP Advantage program, providing developers building Internet of Things with solutions that connect to Azure with access to thousands of patents.
According to a report in TechCrunch, the Azure IP Advantage program provides access to 10,000 patents, aimed at helping the companies fight against patent trolls who launch lawsuits over patent infringement. In addition to expanding the program, the reported said, Microsoft is donating 500 patents to startups that are part of the LOT Network. The LOT Network is an organization designed to protect companies against patent trolls by giving them an array of patents to access. Some of the members include Amazon, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Netflix, SAP, Epic Games, Ford, GM, Lyft and Uber. The member count is more than 150, the report noted.
In addition to protecting companies from patent trolls, Microsoft is letting LOT Network members acquire patents from Microsoft as part of their membership, which is free. The LOT Network will provide startup members with as many as three patents although the startup doesn't get to own them. In order to access the patents, the startup has to spend $1,000 a month on Azure, according to the report.
“The LOT Network is really committed to helping address the proliferation of intellectual property losses, especially ones that are brought by non-practicing entities, or so-called trolls,” Microsoft Corporate Vice President and Deputy General Counsel Erich Andersen said in the report. “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.”
Patents the startups can access cover different technologies and regions and include U.S. patents, European patents and Chinese patents. Andersen said the idea is to serve startups that are coming from different industries and sectors. “The hope we have is that when they approach LOT, they’ll find patents among those 500 that are going to be interesting to basically almost any company that might want a foundational set of patents for their business,” he said.