Google Tries to Keep Patents Out of the Hands of Trolls

Internet giant buys 28% of the patents offered during its patent-purchase experiment

3 min read
Google Tries to Keep Patents Out of the Hands of Trolls
Illustration: Randi Klett; Images: Google and iStockphoto

Google’s Patent Purchase Promotion, which the company says received “thousands” of submissions during a three-week window, may prompt similar experiments in keeping patents out of the hands of what it considers the bad guys of intellectual property.

The experimental program was an attempt to intercept patents that individual inventors, operating companies, and others may have otherwise sold to organizations that don’t make products but rather use the patents to extract license fees from operating companies, which do. Such organizations are commonly called nonpracticing entities, patent assertion entities, or (less politely) patent trolls. The program offered a chance for anybody to sell patents to Google at a price set by the patent holder. Google wound up buying 28 percent of the offered patents that it deemed relevant to its business, according to Kurt Brasch, the company’s senior product licensing manager.

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The Future of Deep Learning Is Photonic

Computing with light could slash the energy needs of neural networks

10 min read

This computer rendering depicts the pattern on a photonic chip that the author and his colleagues have devised for performing neural-network calculations using light.

Alexander Sludds
DarkBlue1

Think of the many tasks to which computers are being applied that in the not-so-distant past required human intuition. Computers routinely identify objects in images, transcribe speech, translate between languages, diagnose medical conditions, play complex games, and drive cars.

The technique that has empowered these stunning developments is called deep learning, a term that refers to mathematical models known as artificial neural networks. Deep learning is a subfield of machine learning, a branch of computer science based on fitting complex models to data.

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