The Patent Tracker is a web tool from Microsoft that provides a list of all of the patents Microsoft owns, whether it’s directed to US or International portions of the portfolio, or to any individual country. You can search any those patents by patent number, title, region, and/or assignee of record.
It also provides a download link to a CSV file containing the entire list that is downloadable and searchable in Microsoft Excel. And according to this file, Microsoft is currently holding 40,785 patents at this right moment.
But why Microsoft is doing this?
The goal is to provide more transparency in the patent system which Microsoft believes is an important part of a well-functioning patent system.
Transparency around patent ownership will help prevent gamesmanship by companies that seek to lie in wait and “hold up” companies rather than enable a well-functioning secondary market. Of equal importance, transparency is a prerequisite to enforceability of patent licensing pledges, whether to standards bodies or to the world at large. Quite simply, without transparency it is impossible to determine if a company is in fact abiding by those commitments.
In the announcement of the Patent Tracker, Brad Smith, General Counsel at Microsoft, also said:
We urge other companies to join us in making available information about which patents they own. By doing so, they will help increase transparency, facilitate licensing, and help ensure that the patent system continues to fulfill its role in promoting and encouraging innovation.
Thumbs up for the effort. It’s definitely a good step forward.