Intellectual Property – Licensing Policy

To promote broader availability and use of our technologies, Microsoft may periodically publish new licensing programs on Microsoft currently maintains programs for licensing Windows and other source code, hundreds of communication protocols, popular Microsoft Office XML schemas, and other technologies.

Microsoft has a history of licensing out patents under fair and reasonable terms to companies that respect Microsoft intellectual property rights. Some examples of our licensing programs can be found here. In general, Microsoft considers all requests for licenses, but reserves the right not to license certain technologies and/or patents. Where Microsoft determines to license patents, we generally do so non-exclusively and on terms similar to how others in the technology industry license their own patents, typically referred to as "commercially reasonable" terms.
  • Application to academics
    For bona fide academic institutions, Microsoft makes available appropriate royalty-free covenants under its patents. These royalty-free covenants are intended to encourage non-commercial research and educational activities.
  • Application to software developer kits (SDKs)
    Microsoft recognizes that in the past independent software vendors (ISVs), as part of the SDK program for developing software that runs on the Windows platform, have received certain IP licenses from Microsoft. We do not expect to make changes to our existing approach of granting specific licenses to develop such software under our SDK agreements.
  • Application to existing standards commitments
    As a major participant in many industry standards bodies, Microsoft frequently contributes technology and know-how to these organizations. Many of these organizations have well-defined policies that specify how patents and other IP should be licensed in the standard-setting context. Microsoft will continue to comply with all applicable policies when participating in industry standards processes, including the contribution of technology to standards bodies under "reasonable and nondiscriminatory" (RAND) terms, either on a for-fee, or royalty-free basis, as defined by each standards group.
This policy statement highlights current Microsoft licensing practices and is subject to change at any time. This policy statement is also subject to variation to conform to applicable laws and regulations.