At Microsoft, we’re investing in helping our customers as they move to the cloud. We see an opportunity to help support companies in this changing environment by bringing our security, privacy, compliance and intellectual property assets and expertise to bear in order to help them be more successful. We’re excited to now take an additional step that expands innovation protections.
Today, we are pleased to announce the expansion of the Microsoft Azure IP Advantage program to include new benefits for Azure IoT innovators and startups. We first announced Azure IP Advantage in February 2017, to provide comprehensive protection against intellectual property (IP) risks for our cloud customers. A trend we saw at the time – and one that continues today – is a growing risk to cloud innovation from patent lawsuits. Last year, we joined the Open Invention Network (OIN) and the License on Transfer (LOT) Network to help address patent assertion risk for our customers and partners.
But we believe we can do more. The number of IoT-litigated patents in the U.S. witnessed an increase of more than 400 percent from 2013 to 2018. That’s why, after speaking to customers and reflecting on how we could add even more value to the Azure IP Advantage program, we decided to expand the program with new benefits focused on the Azure-powered Internet of Things (IoT)ecosystem and startups to help deter lawsuits against Azure customers. The new features announced today include:
- Uncapped indemnification coverage for Microsoft’s Azure Sphere and Windows IoT. Indemnification helps protect a customer from IP infringement claims asserted against the customer for its use of the product or service. Today’s expansion brings uncapped indemnification coverage to Azure Sphere and Windows IoT, including the open source software incorporated by Microsoft in these products.
- Access to 10,000 patents for customers using Azure to power IoT devices to defend themselves against IP lawsuits. This benefit can help deter patent lawsuits against Azure customers for their workloads and applications running in Azure or on their IoT devices, as qualified customers can pick a patent to use in their defense of a lawsuit.
- The ability for startups on Azure to acquire Microsoft patents to help boost their business. Qualified startups who also join the LOT Network can acquire Microsoft patents through LOT in technical areas including artificial intelligence, multimedia and security. Patents can play an important role for startups as they grow, look for ways to protect their innovations, and attract critical capital support.
Many startups have told us about the particular vulnerabilities they face as small companies and the importance they place on growing their own early-stage IP portfolios as they look to raise capital and build for the future. Our partners at the LOT Network have established a program that addresses these needs. Microsoft is pleased to donate 500 patents to the LOT Network, which LOT will now make available to qualified startups as part of their free membership.
Taken together, we believe Microsoft offers the most comprehensive, end-to-end framework for addressing IP risks in the cloud.
Initial feedback from customers has been positive:
“For an international engineering company like thyssenkrupp, Microsoft’s Azure IP Advantage program is a great tool for reducing IP risks in the transition to Industry 4.0,” said Dr. Stephan Wolke, head of IP and Services, thyssenkrupp GmbH.
“Applied Brain Research builds AI systems inspired by the brain,” said Peter Suma, chairman and co-CEO of the startup in the growing neuromorphic computing market. “Azure IP Advantage helps us focus on our next innovations and spend less time worrying about IP risks.”
It’s our aim to build a community that can focus on innovating rather than worry about protecting their innovations. We hope this step to expand the Azure IP Advantage program will be helpful in this regard. To learn more, visit the Microsoft Azure IP Advantage site here.