Patents FAQ

Why does Microsoft not hold all of its patents in its own name?

Our general policy is to assign all of our patents, whether homegrown or acquired, into Microsoft’s name. However, in connection with some acquisitions, there may be financial or legal reasons to maintain the patents in the name of the acquired subsidiary (e.g., Skype). The patent tracker tool has been designed so as to make it possible to search for all patents for which Microsoft is the real party in interest but are held in the name of a Microsoft subsidiary instead of Microsoft itself.

What is meant by “all issued patents which Microsoft currently owns, either directly or through subsidiaries”?

The term “owns” in this context means an ownership interest of greater than 50% in a company in whose name a patent is held, either through equity ownership or non-equity interests that provide a controlling voting right.

Why do you use Thomson Reuters data as opposed to your own data for the information other than the patent numbers?

We wanted to use third party data to ensure that the information was accurate and matched the data presented in publicly available databases. Official patent records include some typographical errors (in both title and assignee fields) and these are replicated in the Thomson Reuters data.

If you would like to learn more about the Patents list, what are some options?

In addition to the patent office sites mentioned on the main page, a number of private companies provide analytical tools that may be helpful.

Does the list include design patents?

The Patents list includes all patents, including utility, design, and utility model.