Microsoft Shares a Bit More Source

Microsoft broadens its intellectual property licensing, and adds two new IP licensing programs: one for its ClearType technology and the other for its FAT file system.

Microsoft Corp. is streamlining its licensing programs in a move designed to make more of its intellectual property portfolio broadly available to its partners and competitors.

The Redmond, Wash., software giant on Wednesday will also announce two new IP licensing programs: one for its ClearType technology, which allows text to be read on an LCD monitor in a crisper way, and the other for Microsofts File Allocation Table (FAT) file system. Other companies now will be able to build their own implementations of ClearType and bring it out on other platforms and non-Windows devices under the terms of the license, which is not being made available.

Brad Smith, Microsofts senior vice president and general counsel, and Marshall Phelps, a Microsoft corporate vice president and deputy general counsel for intellectual property, will announce these moves at a media teleconference Wednesday morning.

In an interview with eWEEK ahead of the teleconference, Phelps said the new policy deals with both royalty-bearing and royalty-free use of the companys intellectual property, and will be a balance of both. But he stressed that Microsoft has no intention of licensing these, or other, technologies to the open-source community on a royalty-free basis as "our goal is to treat everyone the same way."

"The point is that pricing has to be consistent and we cant treat one class of competitors differently from another and still have a rational licensing program going forward," he said.

David Kaefer, director of business development in Microsofts IP licensing group, told eWEEK that Microsoft feels its intellectual property has value and the test of that will be if people take licenses.

"The proof is in the pudding, and this is the first step for us. We very much want to create these programs in an attractive way at a price point that is viewed as valuable, and the proof will be whether people take it up," he said.

Phelps added that there will also be an expansion of Microsofts efforts in areas where the IP it puts out is not priced. "The standards and academic worlds are both part of that scenario, and there will be other scenarios where sharing it is in the general good. But we are not going to give it all away for free—that is not the goal," he said.

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