IT giants hook up to fight patent litigation

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Some of the largest technology companies in the world are banding together in a attempt to stop legal action over patent infringement..

Google, Cisco, Ericsson, HP and Verizon are among the companies that have formed the Allied Security Trust (AST).

Each company will pay a US$250,000 membership fee and make $5m available to buy patents that could be used against AST members for infringement.

Under the plan the group would buy up relevant patents and license them to members. To avoid prosecution under anti-trust laws the group would be non-profit and would not seek to sue others.

"It will never be an enforcement vehicle," AST chief executive Brian Hinman told The Wall Street Journal. "It is not the intention of the companies to make money on the transactions."

The paper reported that the companies had decided to band together after BlackBerry maker Research in Motion was forced to pay US$612m to patent holding company NTP or face having its network shut down.

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