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February 22, 2013

Microsoft to publish web information of patents it owns

The information will be published by 1 April 2013.

By CBR Staff Writer

Microsoft announced that it will publish the web information of the patents it owns by 1 April 2013, in order to be more transparent.

Microsoft general counsel & executive vice president of legal & corporate affairs, Brad Smith, said: "We hope other industry leaders will follow suit. With transparency, we can help bring additional sunlight to the patent system."

"There is no question that the US patent system has tremendous strengths but also significant weaknesses," Smith said.

"All of us – private companies, the USPTO, Congress and the courts – share responsibility for taking steps to improve the operation of the patent system.

"From Microsoft’s perspective, the key opportunities relate to increasing transparency, curbing litigation abuse, and improving patent quality."

According to Smith, disclosure of the real party in interest for a particular patent reduces the likelihood of opportunistic behaviour and gamesmanship, helping to facilitate licensing.

Smith said a technology-neutral "loser pays" system for patent cases would force companies to internalise the strength of their case beforehand, deterring frivolous litigation.

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The move from Microsoft follows the US Patent and Trademark Office’s decision, which is planning to draft new rules, known as real party of interest rules.

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