Microsoft holds a ton of patents on various hardware and software products, and most recently it was granted patents in the U.S. for its Surface tablet design as well as the tablet's Touch Cover. Today, Microsoft announced it would launch a way for anyone to quickly view and search through all of the patents that the company currently holds.
The announcement was made on Microsoft's Issues blog by its general counsel, Brad Smith. The web-based Patent Tracker tool is supposed to be launched today, but as of this writing it has yet to go online. Once it does go live, users can search for any patent Microsoft holds by patent number, patent title and country, along with whether the patent is held by Microsoft directly or via one of its subsidiaries. Microsoft will also offer a way to look through its patent catalog via a downloadable CSV file that can be search on Excel.
In the blog post, Smith said that Microsoft was offering this service as a new way to be more open about what kinds of patents the company holds and urged other companies to offer similar services. He added:
We take this step today because we believe that all stakeholders of the U.S. patent system – private companies, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, Congress and the courts – share responsibility for taking steps to improve its operation. Sensible improvements to the patent system, such as increasing transparency on patent ownership, will yield tangible outcomes that enhance American competitiveness, create jobs and foster growth in nearly every sector of the U.S. economy.
Update: The Patent Tracker website is now live.