Google, Cisco, Ericsson HP and Verizon are all among the companies that are forming the AST, according to reports. The companies will pay roughly $250,000 to join this exclusive patent club and will each put about $5 million into escrow with the organization to help fund future patent purchases. With a growing number of companies launching businesses based solely on buying patents and using them to sue others, forming the AST certainly seems like a step in the right direction – at least until lawmakers agree on how to implement a much-needed patent reform.
Of course anti-trust concerns come to mind, given that this select group of tech companies would control a fair amount of intellectual property. The group is pledging, however, that it will never use patent litigation as a strategy to make money. In fact, they are a non-profit venture and its members don't actually own patents – they just grant themselves a license for them and subsequently sell or donate the patents.