Microsoft Licenses IP to Tech Partners

In a move to jumpstart their chances in the software ecosystem, Microsoft today said it would license its intellectual property to eight high-growth IT firms. The announcement marks a shift in the software giant’s policy of licensing only to larger corporations and governments.

Microsoft is licensing its Windows fonts, a set of traffic-related technologies from Microsoft Research, and Windows Connect Now technology to companies who will use the IP in their pursuit of new business opportunities. Ascender Corp., Inrix, D-Link, BridgeCo, Lexar Media Inc., I-O Data Device, GoVideo, M-Systems and SMC Networks are among the named licensees. Financial terms of the deals have not been disclosed.

“This isn’t about licensing a few patents and generating modest income; this is about jump-starting the growth of our partners that can take some of our early ideas and build upon them in a way that maximizes their commercial potential,” said David Kaefer, director of business development in the Intellectual Property and Licensing Group at Microsoft.

Putting IP to Good Use

Through its IP licensing agreement with Microsoft, Ascender will adapt and provide various Windows fonts, including many multilingual fonts currently supplied by Microsoft, to deliver new solutions to their customers.

Inrix, a new Pacific Northwest-based technology company, is licensing predictive, real-time traffic technology from Microsoft Research and building its business around the technology that will enable the delivery of the next generation of traffic information services.

And D-Link, BridgeCo, Lexar Media, I-O Data Device, GoVideo, M-Systems and SMC Networks have licensed intellectual property they can use to improve and simplify the customer experience when adding devices to wireless networks.

Show Me the Money

Directions on Microsoft Lead Analyst Michael Cherry told TechNewsWorld that licensing is an important strategy for Microsoft for two reasons: money and visibility.

“When Microsoft licenses technology it has a chance of becoming the standard,” Cherry said. “If the technology is just used in Microsoft products, then it’s up to Microsoft to make the entire market for that technology.”

In this case, the technology is fonts. But Cherry said not to dismiss the importance of fonts, like Verdana, Georgia and Tahoma, because they show up in printers and affect the small-screen readability. It’s about user-friendliness. But, again, it’s also about the money.

“Microsoft has a huge patent portfolio and they are going to license it,” Cherry said. “It’s another way for Microsoft to make money for its shareholders.”

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