Microsoft’s leaders are taking on patent trolls who file lawsuits against alleged infringers but don’t produce products or services themselves. Today, Microsoft announced it is offering patent protection for third-party applications and services running on the Microsoft Azure cloud platform.
To aid its customers, Microsoft is making 10,000 of its patents available for free to Azure customers. It’s doing this for the sole purpose of helping customers defend themselves against patent lawsuits against their services that run on top of Azure, writes Brad Smith, the company’s chief legal officer in a corporate blog.
In addition, Microsoft announced the Azure IP Advantage program. It will provide intellectual property protection with uncapped indemnification coverage for any open source technology that powers Azure-based services. According to a description for Azure IP Advantage on Microsoft’s site, customers “don’t have to do or pay anything extra, just use Azure knowing that our indemnification coverage is available if you ever need it.”
“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,” writes Smith.
Patent trolling is on the increase, according to Boston Consulting Group, which has noted a 22 percent rise in cloud-based IP lawsuits over the last five years in the United States. These trolls buy patents and licenses and then use their portfolio to file patent infringement lawsuits.