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Microsoft dumps patent catalog on the web

29 Mar 2013

Microsoft has created a public online database for its entire patent catalog, which it claimed will help undercut firms that stymie innovation.

The release is also intended to encourage other firms to provide a detailed database of their patent holdings.

"Transparency around patent ownership will help prevent gamesmanship by companies that seek to lie in wait and 'hold up' companies rather than enable a well-functioning secondary market," wrote Brad Smith, senior vice president and general counsel at Microsoft, in a blog post.

"Of equal importance, transparency is a prerequisite to enforceability of patent licensing pledges, whether to standards bodies or to the world at large."

Smith claimed that patent transparency allows the public to see what is going on in the patent world. He believes that by being transparent a company can better prove it is abiding by its patent licensing commitments.

Redmond's recently created public database is called the "Patent Tracker". Users who go to the databases site can either specifically search for a patent or download a complete list of Microsoft patents in a CSV file.

Along with the site's launch, Microsoft is also urging other companies to release detailed patent information to the public. In his blog post, Smith urges other companies to follow Microsoft's lead and work towards improved patent transparency.

"We urge other companies to join us in making available information about which patents they own," continued Smith.

"By doing so, they will help increase transparency, facilitate licensing, and help ensure that the patent system continues to fulfil its role in promoting and encouraging innovation."

Microsoft is currently in the midst of a major transparency push. Earlier this month the company released a report on the types of government requests for Skype data it has gotten over the past year.

The report came following a major push from privacy advocates who called on the firm to release a transparency report for its Skype data.

Microsoft hasn't always played nicely with its patents. Last year, Google alleged that the firm was creating patent trolls in an effort to artificially inflate the prices of smartphones.

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James Dohnert

James is a freelance writer and editor. In addition to ClickZ, his work has appeared in publications like V3, The Commonwealth Club,, and Shonen Jump magazine. He studied Journalism at Weber State University.

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