In an effort to fend off the ever-increasing and shameful practice of patent trolling, a number of technology heavyweights have joined forces to launch the Allied Security Trust – an organization which will acquire patents and subsequently grant member companies nonexclusive rights to use them.
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.