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Start You Up: Microsoft to License R&D

Buddy, can you spare some technology? Microsoft announced Wednesday that it will begin licensing some of the research and development technology bonanza to start up companies. The idea is to ensure that the massive number of software and hardware inventions that come from Microsoft's 700 researchers are able to come to market. According to the company, Microsoft simply isn't big enough to do it all.

"If we pull this off, if we're able to collaborate effectively \[with startups\], then we can create new companies and new jobs," says David Harnett, the senior director of Microsoft's Intellectual Property Ventures. To jumpstart the initiative, dubbed Microsoft Intellectual Property Ventures, Microsoft will begin licensing 20 technologies. Agreements will be negotiated on a case-by-case basis, and Microsoft will retain part ownership in any companies that wish to use its technology.

The move to license its R&D work is an interesting one. According to Microsoft, the company wishes to increase the revenue flow from its patents, and one obvious way to do that is to license them to other companies. Microsoft representatives noted that computer giant IBM has successful licensed its own patents, generating billions of dollars in revenue as a result.

Some of the technologies Microsoft will be licensing include:

- Face detection and tracking, and natural language processing for educational courseware

- A PDA navigation scheme called LaunchTile.

- Digitally signed, tamper-proof ID cards that incorporate biometric information, called BioCert.

- A gesture-based text input and device navigation system for games called Xnav.

A full list of licensed technologies is available from the Microsoft Web site.

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