Microsoft wants to help its cloud customers feel better protected from intellectual property lawsuit threats. To that end, the company is launching a new feature that’s designed to give them additional shielding.
The (the IP stands for intellectual property) provides a trio of benefits. First, Microsoft will indemnify all Azure customers from intellectual property infringement claims resulting from their use of Azure products, including open source components.
Second, the company will allow customers that meet a set of criteria access to a “patent pick” program, which will allow them to transfer one Microsoft patent from a list of 10,000 to help them with defending against an infringement suit.
Third, in the event Microsoft transfers its patents to a non-practicing entity—sometimes called patent trolls—eligible Azure customers will get a license.
“It’s an easy insurance policy for something that seems remote today to most enterprise IT shops and ISVs [indepedent software vendors], but it’s something that could become an issue in the future, long after they’ve made strategic bets on public cloud providers,” Hammond said.
Microsoft’s IP benefits are also something that could help it stand out in a crowded cloud market. The tech titan has tried to position its cloud as the friendliest home for enterprises while it competes with the likes of Google, Amazon Web Services, and IBM.
for Azure customers who spend more than $1,000 on their cloud bills with Microsoft every month. Furthermore, they must have been sued for patent infringement over their patent workloads, and can only use the patent they get to defend against a suit. Any customer who has sued a fellow Azure customer for patent infringement over their Azure workloads in the past two years is ineligible.
Microsoft will transfer the patent that a customer picks for them to hold in perpetuity, solely for the purposes of defending against patent infringement lawsuits. The company will charge a customer taking advantage of the patent pick program for the administrative costs for transferring the patent.
If one invention is covered by different patents in different countries, Microsoft will transfer the patent that’s relevant for the locale in which its customer is defending against a lawsuit.
In the event that Microsoft transfers some of its patents to a non-practicing entity in the future, Azure customers spending at least $1,000 per month on their cloud bills for the previous three months will be covered by a license to those patents.
The company said that it does not typically sell patents to non-practicing entities. This service basically serves as an extra bit of insurance for concerned Azure customers.