Microsoft offers patent troll defense for cloud customers

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By Jeffrey Dastin

<span class="articleLocation”>Microsoft Corp has thought up another
way to attract potential customers to its cloud computing
service: deterrent against patent trolls.

Companies new to the cloud are vulnerable to non-practicing
entities, which do not make any products themselves but use
their arsenal of broad technology patents to sue other firms in
order to extract royalties or a cash settlement.

The new offering could appeal to companies new to the cloud
arena, needing a service such as Microsoft’s Azure to store
their data or host their mobile app.

It was not clear that it alone would be enough to draw
customers away from the market leader, Amazon.com Inc’s
Amazon Web Services.

Under a plan unveiled on Wednesday, Microsoft said customers
of its cloud service could rely on any of 10,000 Microsoft
patents free of charge to deter legal threats against them.

The Redmond, Washington-based company also said it would
extend its existing promise to defend any customers sued over
Azure to include the freely available or ‘open source’
technology incorporated into its cloud service.

The protection is designed to appeal to an automaker, for
instance, which may have car-related patents but has no such
cover for its mobile apps and other cloud-based products, making
it a target.

“They haven’t had years to build up that patent portfolio,”
said Julia White, Microsoft corporate vice president, in an
interview. “Cloud innovation is far too important to be stifled
by lawsuits.”



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