In a world where patent wars are a common staple in the news and courtrooms, many companies are moving towards more transparency, Microsoft being among them. Today the company has rolled out its Patent Tracker tool, which allows anyone to check out which patents the company owns, as well as download a list of them all in CSV format.
With the Patent Tracker Tool, patents can be searched for via patent number, country, title, and by whether it is held by a subsidiary or Microsoft itself. Those needing an offline version or who are more comfortable shifting through Excel than an online tool can download all the information in a spreadsheet here.
This comes a couple days ahead of their originally stated target of April 1, and is being done as an improvement to the patent system, something Microsoft says private companies and the legal system/USPTO should be doing. Such a move in transparency, says the company, is one step towards enhacing competitiveness and fueling growth and job creation.
Microsoft's Executive VP of Legal & Corporate Affairs Brad Smith said: "Transparency around patent ownership will help prevent gamesmanship by companies that seek to lie in wait and “hold up” companies ... 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."