Microsoft will now let its partners keep key patents for co-created new technologies

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In a lengthy blog post yesterday, Microsoft president Brad Smith announced the Microsoft Shared Innovation Initiative. The initiative is based on a set of principles and is designed to give customers “clarity and confidence” when working with Microsoft on new technologies.

According to Smith, the initiative covers seven areas, all of which are designed to help Microsoft customers grow their businesses through technology, and help Microsoft improve their platform products. Under the new guidelines, the Redmond giant says it will allow partners that co-developed new technologies with Microsoft to own key patents and industrial design rights that result from the collaboration. “Microsoft will receive a license back to any patents and design rights in the new technology that results from the shared innovation, but the license will be limited to improving our platform technologies,” Smith added.

Other highlights from the guidelines are below:

  • We won’t impose contractual restrictions that prevent customers from porting to other platforms the new, shared innovations they own.
  • We will work with customers to ensure transparency and clarity on all IP issues as the shared innovation project moves forward.
  • We’ll continue to learn from this work and use this learning to improve further our shared innovation work.

The Shared Innovation Initiative builds on the Azure IP Advantage program, which the company introduced last year. That program helps Microsoft customers help fight legal claims against intellectual property (IP) in the cloud. “We believe this initiative and these principles offer a path that will ensure that the co-creation of digital technologies creates new economic value to companies throughout the economy and around the world, rather than for just a few select companies in the tech sector,” Smith said.