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Microsoft's new patent tracker promises transparency, but is all about licensing

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New Microsoft Logo stock
New Microsoft Logo stock

As Apple and Samsung continue to wage war over patents, other tech companies like Google and Twitter are trying to make the patent landscape look a little bit less like a minefield. Microsoft is landing distinctly in the middle as it attempts to facilitate patent licensing by today launching a tracking tool that showcases its portfolio. The company implies that the new tool's transparency will promote innovation, but the apparent intent is to make evident what patents the company owns so that individuals and other companies don't get caught up by trolls alleging ownership over a certain patent.

Microsoft's Chief Patent Council Bart Eppenauer told The Verge last year that the company monetizes its "currency of innovation" and research and development efforts through licensing arrangements. The company announced the patent tracker initiative in February, promising that it would be ready by April 1st. It debuted earlier today, but was intermittently unavailable, ostensibly due to an error. Microsoft isn't committing to the type of openness that Google and Twitter have for select patents, but it appears to be interested in some amount of increased civility across the patent landscape — at least when it's benefiting itself.