Azure IP Advantage: Protecting Innovation in the Cloud
For a startup, providing a great customer value proposition, iterating on the customer offering, and landing early wins are usually the focus areas. This energy fuels the innovation for customers and in turn drives additional customer loyalty and business scale for the startup. Increasingly, cloud is becoming a key enabler for this rapid innovation and iterations, with on-demand scale, and pay-as-you go models.
What is often overlooked is the protection of this innovation from intellectual property risk. What if all the dreams of the founders come true but the intellectual property they built is threatened by baseless litigation?
According to a recent BCG study, there has been a 22% rise per year in cloud-based patent litigation in the past five years in the US. And, non-practicing entities (NPE), or patent trolls, that are in the business of acquiring patents to sue others as the sole means of revenue generation, have increased their acquisition of cloud-related patents by 35% over the same period. Simply put, the risk of litigation in the cloud is growing and is likely to continue.
To help business get ahead of this new risk and innovate freely in the cloud, Microsoft launched the Azure IP Advantage program in early February.
The program includes three key benefits, unmatched by any other cloud provider:
- Microsoft’s best-in-industry uncapped indemnification coverage will now also cover any open source technology that powers Microsoft Azure services, such as Hadoop used for Azure HD Insight. This benefit is available to all Microsoft Online service customers and our customer agreements have already been updated to reflect this.
- We will make 10,000 Microsoft patents available to Azure customers, so they can better defend themselves against patent lawsuits. These patents represent one of the largest and most valuable patent portfolios in the world and broadly represent Microsoft’s overall patent portfolio. We refer this to benefit as a “patent pick” for our Azure customers.
- We are pledging to Azure customers that if we transfer patents to non-practicing entities (NPEs or patent trolls) these patents cannot be asserted against Azure customers. We do not have a general practice of making such transfers, but this is an extra protection that many customers value. This is referred to as a “springing license”.
These benefits are available to all customers using Azure. No additional signup or enrollment are required. When a customer needs a patent to defend their own IP in the cloud, we will qualify them as an Azure using customer (USD $1k/month consumption for previous three months) and transfer the patent to the customer.
With these changes, startups can innovate and grow confidently in the cloud with best-in-industry IP protection. Additional assessment of the benefits is also available from IAM Media, an independent third party.
To learn more, please visit https://aka.mas/AzureIPAdvantage and check out this DevRadio podcast: How to Reduce Risk, Innovate with Confidence, and Operate with Freedom in the Cloud.