Ina Fried

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Microsoft Launches Tool to Make It Easy to See All Its Patents

microsoft_patentJust ahead of a self-imposed deadline, Microsoft on Thursday went live with an online tool to search and view the company’s patents.

General Counsel Brad Smith had said last month that the Patent Tracker would be available by April 1.

“Transparency regarding patent ownership is an important part of a well-functioning patent system,” Smith wrote in a blog post. “One of the fundamental objectives of the patent system is to provide notice regarding inventions — not only the nature of what has been invented but who owns the patent.”

The tool appears to have more limited search capabilities than the patent office’s own tool, however, limiting searches to the patent name, number, region and whether it is directly assigned to Microsoft. The company is also making available all of its patents in one big downloadable list.

Microsoft is among the biggest applicants for — and recipients of — U.S. patents. The company has over the past decade worked to build a sizable business licensing out its technology and has also signed a slew of patent cross-licensing deals.

The software maker has sought to license its technology for those providing rival operating systems that it says make use of Windows technology including both Linux and Android.

Where companies have not been willing to license, Microsoft has been known to go to court, including in its ongoing battle with Google’s Motorola Mobility unit.

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Another gadget you don’t really need. Will not work once you get it home. New model out in 4 weeks. Battery life is too short to be of any use.

— From the fact sheet for a fake product entitled Useless Plasticbox 1.2 (an actual empty plastic box) placed in L.A.-area Best Buy stores by an artist called Plastic Jesus