Microsoft program to help protect against intellectual property risks in the cloud

Microsoft has announced the Microsoft Azure IP Advantage, a new program designed to help protect against intellectual property risks in the cloud.

As customers and partners across all sectors embrace digital transformation, and accelerate cloud adoption, new challenges are emerging, including an increase in intellectual property risks.

A recent study from Boston Consulting Group found a 22% rise in cloud-based litigation over last five years. Over the same period non-practicing entities (sometimes called patent trolls) have increased their acquisition of cloud-related patents by 35%.

To help address this growing challenge, the Microsoft Azure IP Advantage will provide Azure customers with industry leading IP protection in the cloud and will allow developers, entrepreneurs, enterprises and customers to innovate with confidence.

“Our goal is to help foster a community that values and protects innovation and investments in the cloud. We want software developers to be able to focus on coding, and businesses and enterprises to be able to respond to the changing needs of their customers with agility without worrying about lawsuits,” wrote Brad Smith, President and Chief Legal Officer, Microsoft, in a blog.

According to Smith, the shift to the cloud will generate more than $1 trillion in IT spending by 2020, according to the research firm Gartner, representing an incredible economic opportunity for individuals and businesses around the world. “But at the same time, it’s important to address the growing risk of intellectual property lawsuits in the cloud.”

Under the program, the company will make 10,000 Microsoft patents available to customers that use Azure services for the sole purpose of enabling them to better defend themselves against patent lawsuits against their services that run on top of Azure. These patents are broadly representative of Microsoft’s overall patent portfolio and are the result of years of cutting-edge innovation by our best engineers around the world.

The company is also pledging to Azure customers that if Microsoft transfers patents in the future to non-practicing entities, they can never be asserted against them. “We do not have a practice of making such transfers, but we have learned that this is an extra protection that many customers value,” wrote Smith.