MS expands help for IP protection

Microsoft has expanded a programme that helps protect PC makers and other partners against intellectual property (IP) litigation amidst growing fears of legal actions filed in relation to the use of its software.

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By  Caroline Denslow Published  June 30, 2005

Microsoft has expanded a programme that helps protect PC makers and other partners against intellectual property (IP) litigation amidst growing fears of legal actions filed in relation to the use of its software. The IP protection provided by Microsoft, commonly referred to as indemnification, helps shield partner companies from exposure to legal costs and damage claims related to patent or other intellectual property disputes. Those who will benefit from the expanded programme include Microsoft’s original equipment manufacturer (OEM) partners, OEM system builders, OEM distributors and independent software vendor (ISV) royalty partners. Collectively, these partners account for more than US$18 billion of Microsoft’s annual software revenue. The offering will include protection for the four forms of disputes commonly associated with software: patent, copyright, trade secret and trademark, and will extend to current and future versions of software, such as the Windows Server System (including SQL Server and Exchange Server), Microsoft Office, and Windows client software. “This is a part of our ongoing efforts to respond to the requests of customers and partners. Our partners are telling us that IP issues are becoming increasingly complex, and they appreciate that Microsoft stands behind them and our products,” said Brad Smith, senior vice president and general counsel at Microsoft. “We’re proud of our strong IP indemnification, and we encourage our partners and end users to ask their IT vendors about the level of protection they provide for their products,” he added. “By improving partner indemnification, Microsoft is once again maximising its platform’s value for ISVs in a market where fear of litigation can critically impact innovation,” said Nabeel Youakim, area vice president of Microsoft global relationship at Citrix Systems. “The market is changing and channel partners need to pay attention to what’s happening in the software industry in the area of IP management,” added Stephen Graham, group vice president of global software business strategies at IDC. “Even if a partner believes it is an unlikely litigation target, business disruption can still result from a legal dispute regarding a key supplier’s IP. To protect their own interests, partners should make sure they understand the degree of IP protection and the resources available to them from the vendor should an infringement issue arise,” Graham said. Microsoft has been continually expanding its IP protection based on customer and partner feedback. In 2003, the company removed monetary caps for volume licensees after learning that this was a top concern. In November 2004, Microsoft extended its IP protection for customers by taking coverage previously available only to volume licensees and making it available to end users.

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