Microsoft Offers Intellectual Property Protection for Azure Cloud Customers

Microsoft Offers Intellectual Property Protection for Azure Cloud Customers

Today Microsoft Vice President and Chief Legal Officer Brad Smith announced a program called Microsoft Azure IP Advantage for the companies Azure customers that will provide protection for the Intellectual Properties of their customers by using Microsoft's own patent portfolio.

One of the main reasons behind the creation of this new program is to help address the risk of patent infringement that impacts many companies who are moving to or have become a digital business as use of the cloud has increased over the last several years.

"Our goal is to help foster a community that values and protects innovation and investments in the cloud. We want software developers to be able to focus on coding, and businesses and enterprises to be able to respond to the changing needs of their customers with agility without worrying about lawsuits."

Microsoft's decision behind this program is supported by the numbers as well.

Smith shared in the announcement blog post that more than $1 trillion dollars will be spent on IT by the year 2020 (Gartner report), that there has been a 22% increase in cloud-based IP cases over the last five years in the US, and that non-practicing entities have increased the acquisition of cloud-related patents by 35% over that same five year period (last two stats from the Boston Consulting Group).

As spending in cloud continues to rise it stands to reason that litigation around and the acquisition of cloud-related patents will also continue that same upward trend.

Microsoft's Azure IP Advantage program will focus on three key elements:

- Our best-in-industry intellectual property protection with uncapped indemnification coverage will now also cover any open source technology that powers Microsoft Azure services, such as Hadoop used for Azure HD Insight.

- We will make 10,000 Microsoft patents available to customers that use Azure services for the sole purpose of enabling them to better defend themselves against patent lawsuits against their services that run on top of Azure. These patents are broadly representative of Microsoft’s overall patent portfolio and are the result of years of cutting-edge innovation by our best engineers around the world.

- We are pledging to Azure customers that if Microsoft transfers patents in the future to non-practicing entities, they can never be asserted against them. We do not have a practice of making such transfers, but we have learned that this is an extra protection that many customers value.

Customers such as Toyota and Mattel are already using this coverage for their own Azure based services and you can read more about the plan and other requirements to participate at the Microsoft Azure IP Advantage web portal.

The entire FAQ for the program is also available for additional information about the service.

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