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Microsoft Azure doles out 500 patents to startups

The patents will be distributed to the LOT Network, a group of tech businesses and startups who are working together to fight patent trolls

Patent

Microsoft has announced it's handing over 500 patents to startups in the LOT Network, a community of businesses committed to protecting against patent trolls through the sharing of patents.

Some of the other businesses involved in the LOT Network are brand superpowers, such as Amazon, Facebook, Google, Netflix, SAP, Epic Games, Ford, GM, Lyft and Uber. By allowing other businesses to access their patents, it stops them being distributed illegally.

Startups are encouraged to join the LOT Network to gain access to the patents, but they also want to use it to raise capital and protect themselves from people who will either sit on patents without using then or sue others for potentially infringing upon unused patents. Because such a variety of patents are available to members, startups have a great advantage over their competitors.

"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," said Microsoft CVP and Deputy General Counsel Erich Andersen.

Those joining the LOT Network will be able to own the patents outright, giving startup members access to three of them. However, as part of the agreement, the startups must be consuming at least $1000 a month in Azure spend, based upon their previous three months' expenditure.

"We want to help the LOT Network grow its network of startups," Andersen said. "To provide an incentive, we are going to provide these patents to them."

The announcement formed part of Microsoft's wider news that it has expanded its Azure IP Advantage programme, which has been developed to protect its Azure users against patent trolls. It allows those developing IoT applications on Microsoft Azure to access 10,000 of its patents, meaning they're less likely to find themselves in an intellectual property lawsuit.

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