One truth about startups and innovation is that you need to build your product upon what is already there, to some degree. There are certain ideas that become accepted wisdom and certain things that are universally accepted features, and to go against those things would be setting yourself on an uphill path towards success. That accepted knowledge and common practice requires a certain communal spirit of cooperation; not exactly lifting one another up, but not pulling the ladder up behind you either.
We've come to expect the worst from many of the biggest corporations in the world, and rightly so, so it warrants mention when one of them makes a positive step for a greater good. Microsoft made such a step recently, when they announced that they were helping out in the fight against patent trolls.
As part of their effort, Microsoft announced that in addition to expanding its Azure IP Protection program, it was donating 500 of its patents to the LOT Network, a group of companies that seeks to collectively defend against patent trolls by offering member companies access to select parts of their patent portfolios. Member companies will be able to gain ownership of three Microsoft patents as part of their membership to he network as an incentive to join. The patents cover a wide range of technologies and are available from a number of countries and regions. There is a catch, as Techcrunch notes: the patents are given to members who are also part of the Azure program who are spending $1000 a month.
Still, spending requirement or not, the program provides a necessary bulwark against patent trolls, and ultimately serves for the common good as well as Microsoft's, as companies big and small look towards a future where the Internet of Things (IoT) is further intertwined with every aspect of our lives. And we can't dismiss or take for granted any measure of altruism from tech giants, because such good deeds and good intentions are often in short supply.