Microsoft is pledging to support industry standard with its patents that are necessary for the developmnet of the internet and cross operability among mobile devices. With a recent rash of patent lawsuits that pit Microsoft at the center, this move comes as a surprise.
This is not very often we see the words patent and fairness positively associated in the same sentence, but the people at Microsoft seem to be doing just that pledging to make the company’s patents available to support industry standards. While many people in the tech industry has criticized Microsoft for constantly trying to sue company that infringe its patents, particularly hardware makers that have adopted Android operation system, the software is changing its tone on how to protect and share its patents.
“Like other leading high-tech firms, Microsoft regularly contributes to the development of industry standards. Industry standards are vitally important to the development of the internet and to interoperability among devices and other computer. The international standards system works well because firms that contribute to standards promise to make their essential patents available to others on fair and nondiscriminatory terms.”
While the pledge does not necessarily mean that Microsoft will stop legally pursuing other company that infringe on its patents, but the company offers a guideline on its approaching going forward.
1. Microsoft will always adhere to the promises it has made to standards organizations to make its standard essential patents available on fair, reasonable and nondiscriminatory terms.
2. This means that Microsoft will not seek an injunction or exclusion order against any firm on the basis of those essential patents.
3. This also means that Microsoft will make those essential patents available for license to other firms without requiring that those firms license their patents back to Microsoft, except for any patents they have that are essential to the same industry standard.
4. Microsoft will not transfer those standard essential patents to any other firm unless that firm agrees to adhere to the points outlined above.
Some people may wonder whether the pledge by Microsoft to be supportive for Industry standards with its patents is a reaction to an attorney from the US International Trade Commission (ITC) claiming that Barnes & Nobles did not violate Microsoft patents, the company change of tone will certainly be welcomed among other tech firms.
Many in the tech industry have claimed that the patent system needs to be changed because it hinders innovation as it is currently structured. The changes are not coming as fast as many would want so big firms like Microsoft and others are doing what seems necessary to make patents work for what they are worth.