Trend Micro Incorporated announced it has joined non-profit community LOT Network in a bid to combat the growing threat posed to its business and its customers by patent assertion entities (PAEs).
Often described as “patent trolls,” PAEs are companies that don’t make any products but instead seek royalties by asserting its patents against those who do make products.
“Trend Micro has been able to offer industry leading protection for its global customers for over three decades thanks in a large part to the skill and expertise of its R&D team and the high quality of its intellectual property,” said Felix Sterling, chief legal officer for Trend Micro. “By joining LOT Network today we’re taking a united stand against the patent trolls, and passing on the protections we get through our membership to our customers. Their lawsuits drain tens of billions from the global economy and distract innovative companies like Trend Micro from the important task of serving their customers.”
Although PAE-driven lawsuits have been a problem for decades, they’ve soared in volume by 500% over the past 10 years. Even though fewer than 1% of defendants in these cases are eventually found to have infringed a valid patent, over 80% choose to settle before trial to save prohibitive legal costs.
This has a real impact on innovation: firms forced to pay PAEs are estimated to spend $211 million less on R&D.
LOT Network was founded in 2014 as a non-profit community of companies that have decided to take a stand against PAEs. Members agree that if and only if a member’s assets fall into the hands of a patent troll, they will grant a license to all other members — thus rendering them immune from PAE litigation using those assets. All traditional uses of patents, such as selling them or using them to sue other companies, are retained.