It's the big name companies that we typically hear about being targeted by patent assertion entities but the truth of the matter is, patent trolls don't discriminate. They'll go after companies of all sizes if they think they can get squeeze some money out of them. Startups are no exception.

Fortunately, it seems that more and more companies are chipping in to help out budding newcomers, Google being the latest.

The search giant has launched a patent starter program in which it is offering eligible startups and developers a collection of patents to help protect them as they get off the ground.

Specifically, the Google Patent Starter Program includes two patent families from its portfolio. Google will work with a company to identify up to five assets based on its business focus from which each participant can select two.

Participating companies will also be required to join the License On Transfer (LOT) Network, a royalty-free patent cross licensing group created last year whose participants include Canon, Dropbox, Newegg, SAP and of course, Google.

A number of other high-profile companies including Tesla and Toyota have also opened up their patent portfolios to others in recent memory.

It's worth noting that Google is only offering the patent program to the first 50 eligible startups and developers meaning, if you want in, you better apply ASAP.