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Azure IP Advantage program

Microsoft offers Microsoft Azure IP Advantage Benefits to Qualified Customers of Microsoft Azure products and services.

Azure IP Advantage program

Microsoft Azure customers now have access to best-in-industry protection against intellectual property (IP) risks in the cloud with Microsoft Azure IP Advantage program. One of the most comprehensive protection programs, it is designed to help customers protect their cloud-based innovations and investments against IP lawsuits and risks. We take seriously our responsibility to help ensure that the cloud is used for good. In partnership with our customers, we are working hard to help create an ecosystem where developers, entrepreneurs, enterprises, and customers can innovate with confidence.

Additional details on Azure IP Advantage:

Azure IP Advantage overview
Azure IP Advantage patent list
Azure IP Advantage Terms and conditions

Frequently asked questions about the Azure IP Advantage program

General

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Azure IP Advantage is a program for Azure customers offering best-in-industry protection against intellectual property risks, so developers can focus on coding and customers can focus on running their businesses, with reduced risk and exposure to IP lawsuits without diminishing customers’ own IP rights. It has three components to help customers protect their cloud investments:

  1. The ability to pick from 10,000 Microsoft patents to help defend against an IP lawsuit
  2. Industry leading uncapped indemnification for IP lawsuits, including open source incorporated into first-party Azure branded services
  3. A springing license to any Microsoft patent that is transferred to non-practicing entities

Some eligibility requirements apply.

All Azure customers are eligible to participate in Microsoft Azure IP Advantage, but the patent pick and springing license benefits are subject to eligibility criteria described in the Microsoft Azure IP Advantage terms and conditions.

No, Azure IP Advantage is a feature of Azure and there is no sign-up process. Defense and indemnity are included in standard customer terms for Azure and the springing license benefit comes automatically once customers have met eligibility requirements. Exercise of the patent pick option is available to customers who want to pursue it.

At Microsoft, our commitment is to enable people and businesses throughout the world to realize their full potential. Aligned with this mission, we also believe that customers value partners who understand their business needs and are committed to helping them anticipate and address risks rather than taking their rights away.

New IP risks emerge as businesses transform and drive more cloud usage. If you run services in the cloud or plan to do so in the future, you should consider your strategy for addressing IP infringement risk and choose a cloud platform partner that understands these risks and has a comprehensive plan to help you address them.

No. Microsoft does not require customers to waive their ability to assert their own IP rights as part of its standard hosting terms. Microsoft’s philosophy is to provide IP benefits to its customers for using the Azure service.

We believe that usage is an important indicator of customer engagement with the Azure platform, and Azure IP Advantage is meant to reward and benefit such customers.

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Indemnification is a contractual obligation often provided by the supplier of a product or a service to protect the customer from IP infringement claims asserted against the customer for its use of the product or service. In the context of Azure IP Advantage, Microsoft indemnification terms protect customers from IP infringement claims arising from customers’ use of Microsoft cloud platform technologies and included open source components.

No, unlike some competitors, we don’t cap indemnification.

No, unlike some of our competitors, we don’t exclude open source when it is included in our branded Azure services.

Yes, it has been Microsoft’s policy for many years to indemnify and defend customers for IP risks as described in our contract terms. With the launch of this new benefit, we also defend and indemnity for IP claims against open source code included in first-party branded product and service offerings.

Microsoft indemnifies open source software incorporated by Microsoft into Azure and provided under Microsoft’s terms. For example, Azure HDInsight, our Hadoop offering, would be covered. Open source that is provided under a separate license, such as a Linux distribution in a VM, is not covered by Microsoft’s terms, but may receive indemnification under another provider’s terms. In China, this indemnification is provided by 21Vianet, an independent entity licensed by the Chinese government to provide cloud services under Chinese law.

If you use Azure, you are already covered. Azure indemnification goes into effect as soon as you use Azure. It is part of the Azure terms of service, which were updated on February 1, 2017 – in China the relevant terms of service were updated on October 1st, 2017. There is no minimum usage requirement.

Microsoft’s indemnity obligation does not extend to the customer’s own data, non-Microsoft products, or any modifications a customer may make to Microsoft software or online services. It also does not cover any customer use that violates the law or damages a third party. Customers should consult the terms of their Microsoft license agreements for details.

The indemnification terms for Microsoft Azure can be found in the applicable license agreement. For example, for customers under the Microsoft Online Subscription Agreement, the terms are in that agreement. For Enterprise Agreement customers, the terms are in the Master Business and Services Agreement. Customers who license under the Open programs, Microsoft Cloud Agreement (the customer agreement for Cloud Services Providers) or the Enrollment for Education Solutions should likewise look to those agreements for the indemnity language.

These agreements incorporate the Microsoft Online Service Terms, which were updated on February 1, 2017, to include coverage for open source.

For customers in China, the indemnification provisions can be found in the customer agreements provided by 21Vianet.

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As of February 8, 2017, Microsoft has about 60,000 patents on a worldwide basis.

Microsoft is making 10,000 patents available; see the Azure IP Advantage patent list. Microsoft may change and update the list from time to time. This includes around 800 patents for China alone.

Yes, they include patents from outside the United States. The group includes pending applications that are ancillary to issued patents in the same patent family.

The purpose is to deter operating companies from suing Azure customers for patent infringement against their workloads running in Azure by giving such customers access to a very significant portfolio of world-class patents that can be used for defensive purposes in the context of a lawsuit.

Any bona fide Azure customer is eligible, provided that (i) you have paid at least $1,000 per month over the past three months for your usage of Azure; (ii) you have remained patent peaceful against Azure workloads in the last two years, and (iii) you are sued for patent infringement.

Please refer to the Microsoft Azure IP Advantage terms and conditions for more details.

Your customer invoice or online usage reporting for Azure will indicate monthly Azure usage. If you submit a patent request form, Microsoft will review your usage and make a final determination of eligibility.

  • Web Direct (MOSP) customers can download usage details for a subscription from Azure account center.
  • Enterprise Agreement customers can review a usage summary in the Reports section of the Azure Enterprise Agreement portal.
  • Customers who buy through a Cloud Services Provider should review their reseller invoices.

No, eligibility is based on Azure usage, regardless of whether it is paid in advance or in arrears.

Yes, including your subscriptions for Microsoft Azure operated by 21Vianet in China.

In general, the answer is no. The patents are being made available to customers solely for defense of suits against their Azure workloads. Please consult the terms and conditions for all the details.

No, the patent pick applies only to lawsuits filed after the effective date of Azure IP Advantage, which is February 8, 2017, except in China. The patent pick can be exercised for patent infringement lawsuits filed in China after October 1, 2017.

No. The patent pick is meant to help defend you from lawsuits for which you don’t already receive indemnification.

Microsoft engaged in a lengthy and careful process to select a portfolio that we viewed as being representative of a broad cross-section of technologies within the Microsoft portfolio overall, weighted somewhat toward cloud-oriented technologies.

Yes, the patents on the list will continue to be owned by Microsoft unless or until they are transferred to a customer as part of Azure IP Advantage. When patents expire, they will be removed from the list. In addition, until such a transfer of a patent to a customer occurs, such patents may be removed from the list, assigned to third parties (subject to the springing license benefit), and included in Microsoft patent licensing programs. If Microsoft removes a patent from the list or a patent expires, however, Microsoft plans to add new patents so as to maintain a total list of 10,000 patents.

The patent may be used to counter-assert in a lawsuit for defensive purposes only. Furthermore, the patent may not be used against an Azure workload. Please consult the terms and conditions for all the details.

No, we’ve carefully chosen a broad and diverse portfolio of patents that independent patent experts have evaluated and found to be valuable. See the Azure IP Advantage patent list.

Our goal is to create a community of interest among our customers in support of a peaceful zone of innovation, so we are offering an incentive through the patent pick benefit without taking away customers’ IP rights.

Microsoft will transfer patents selected through the “patent pick” benefit for a payment that approximates the administrative costs associated with the transfer—not the market value, which could be much higher. We are not profiting from these patent transfers.

As further described in the Azure IP Advantage terms and conditions, in general, patents will be assigned to the first qualified customer who meets the conditions for a patent transfer and completes the documents necessary to take title to a patent.

No, patent considerations are already in the cloud and need to be taken into account as part of a thoughtful approach to doing business in the digital world. The “patent pick” benefit is designed to help customers—who have demonstrated their commitment to peaceful behavior in the Azure community—to address real risks of doing business, by helping them defend themselves against lawsuits.

Although Microsoft cannot provide customers advice on which patent to select, we recommend customers consider engaging legal counsel or IP experts to advise them. Here’s a list of a few IP advisors: High Tech Solutions and TechInsights.

Yes, provided you meet the usage requirement for the Azure software or services operated by Microsoft and the other requirements of the program.

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As further described in the Microsoft Azure IP Advantage terms and conditions, a springing license is a benefit that comes into being (it “springs” into existence) upon the occurrence of a defined event. In the case of Azure IP Advantage, the eligible customers become fully licensed to one or more Microsoft patents if and when Microsoft were to transfer such patents to a non-practicing entity (NPE).

Any bona fide Azure customer is eligible, provided you have paid at least $1,000 per month over the past three months for your usage of Azure.

Please refer to the Azure IP Advantage terms and conditions for more details.

Some customers have told us that they value springing licenses and would appreciate having Microsoft make such commitments as part of an Azure offering.

In general, Microsoft does not sell patents to NPEs.

The LOT network is multi-party agreement whereby individual companies elect to provide springing licenses to other companies within the network in exchange for a reciprocal commitment to provide a springing license. Microsoft is providing a unilateral springing license to customers as part of Azure IP Advantage and is not asking for a reciprocal promise in return.

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Azure IP Advantage is available in every market where Azure is available. In most countries, Azure cloud services are available directly from Microsoft and so is Azure IP Advantage. In China, where Microsoft Azure is operated by 21 Vianet, an independent entity licensed by the Chinese government to provide cloud services under Chinese law the indemnification benefits are available from 21Vianet, whereas the patent pick and the springing license are available from Microsoft.

Microsoft is committed to making Azure IP Advantage a success and our intention is to offer these benefits indefinitely. Every Microsoft customer receives the benefit of the IP indemnification, even if that customer is not otherwise eligible for other aspects of Azure IP Advantage, and Microsoft will not be narrowing the scope of that indemnification. Other parts of Azure IP Advantage may be adjusted to meet evolving business needs.

Yes. For example, the patent pick benefit is available to counter a patent lawsuit asserted against your workload running in Azure operated by Microsoft or in Azure Stack in your own environment. However, the usage threshold is measured against Azure operated by Microsoft. See the terms and conditions for details.

We believe that our offering is market-leading and that no other competitor has an approach to mitigating IP risk that is as comprehensive as the benefits we make available with Azure IP Advantage. We encourage customers to compare our competitors’ offerings to Azure IP Advantage.

Yes, provided you meet the Azure subscription payment threshold and other requirements as defined in the Azure IP Advantage terms and conditions. Your eligibility is determined by your own Azure usage, not your customers’ usage.

Yes, provided your own usage meets the subscription payment threshold and other requirements as defined in the Azure IP Advantage terms and conditions.

The defense and indemnity benefits that are part of Azure IP Advantage are also part of the standard terms for all Microsoft service offerings. The patent pick and springing license benefits, however, are only available to eligible Azure customers at this time.

Azure IP Advantage is designed to help protect your innovation in Azure on a public or private cloud (Azure Stack). You may want to take a step further and get insurance for your patent risks. For example, RPX Corporation offers insurance that covers risk from patent infringement lawsuits, and the RPX network helps reduce the likelihood of claims in the first place.