Percent of Patents Discussing “Microsoft,” part II

In an earlier post, I introduced some data relating to patents that discuss Microsoft somewhere in the patent document. That post showed that almost 5% of newly issued patents refer to the software giant in some way. That data also showed a strong upward trend over time. The post received a few interesting comments as well as a few suggestions. [LINK] In response, I have added some additional data to the graphs. The first graph below shows the percent of patents that discuss Microsoft (in blue) and now also includes the percent of patents that are assigned to Microsoft (in red). Several years ago, Microsoft publicized their intention to obtain a large number of patents. That intention is becoming a reality, and Microsoft recently obtained its 10,000th patent. However, only about 20% of patents that discuss Microsoft are actually assigned to the company.

The next graph compares the patents discussing “Microsoft” with other products/companies. Here, I include patents that discuss “Microsoft” (blue), “UNIX” (green), “LINUX” (red), and “Apple” (tan). UNIX has seen some growth, but not much since the mid 1990’s. In the past couple of years, the number of LINUX patents have grown dramatically, but still pale in comparison to Microsoft patents. Although the absolute numbers for LINUX related patents are still small, they are surprisingly high based on the anti-patent lore of LINUX developers. Apple has remained steady over the years. Of course, my results for Apple should be tempered by the false positive results that actually refer to the fruit rather than the computer company or its products.

An issue in all these graphs is time lag. The time lag of issued patents may be easily seen by searching for patents that discuss “Google.” – The result is only 1342 patents but 4682 published applications.

24 thoughts on “Percent of Patents Discussing “Microsoft,” part II

  1. 24

    I find internet marketing the same as marketing a product in the real world. In real marketing one really has to go through different means to promote a brand and product. Same tasks are applied in internet marketing but this can also be done at the comfort of one’s bedroom.

  2. 21

    I was surprised in the early 1990s interviewing with Microsoft to discover how small (and IMHO inexperienced) their patent department was at the time. I went on to work for a company with 10x as many patent attorneys with half their sales (at the time).

    My guess is that they got somewhat serious about filing patents after being repeatedly held up by others, whether major companies like IBM, or patent trolls. At least with companies like IBM, the size of one’s patent portfolio was one of the factors utilized in determining cross-licensing royalties. Also, the more patents you have, the more that are likely to read upon any given competitor’s products.

  3. 20

    Anyone wonder why this is the case? Microsoft is not the largest US filer (Samsung?). Microsoft builds so-called computing ecosystems and encourages innovation on top of the platform/ecosystem/framework. Windows is obviously the most well-used ecosystem, but things like SMS/MOM, .Net, Workflow Foundation, Windows Presentation (foundation?), and many others are somewhat open-ended and allow extensions and modifications.

  4. 19

    To Just sayin’

    The “Anti-patent” is a reference to the sentence “they are surprisingly high based on the anti-patent lore of LINUX developers” in the main article; hence, the quotation marks. The point of my post was to suggest that Linux developers/programmers are not “anti-patent” per se, just “anti-monopoly”, which is a principle of fair business competition.

    Certainly, that’s not the case for Linux developers employed by the likes of Red Hat et al. A quick search tells you that Red Hat are quite interested in patents.

    However, I can name at least one subsidiary board member and several developers who have resigned from their jobs with other firms (i.e. NOT Red Hat) in protest at the owners refusing to publish products as open source. That was before the downturn, but it has still meant that the owners are hamstrung because the inventors are no longer on a payroll and won’t explain to the in-house attorney how it works…

    I guess the cubicle dewellers will have even less say (and possibly to say) from now on …

  5. 17

    To Frozenduck,

    While Linux programmers may be “anti-patent”, I can guarantee you that the shareholders of, say, RedHat are probably not. Aside from the possibility of giving some technical advice, the programmers/inventors do not have a say in what does or doesn’t get licensed.

  6. 16

    Seems to me that the number of Linux patents is quite understandable: “Anti-patent” Linux programmers file a patent and then license it for free with the proviso that it is always free. That way companies who are “pro-patent” cannot control a monopoly in that area and exclude competitors. Seems like quite a reasonable thing to do if you are “anti-monopoly”, which is probably the better description of most Linux programmers.

  7. 15

    The analysis will be complete when you determine how many of these patents in each category are continuation applicaitons or otherwise in the same family, then normalize it across the board. Just kidding.

  8. 13

    Well Real, very handsome of you there. Not what I was expecting at all I must say, You’re a real trouper! (And you might also be a real trooper as well, for all I know.)

  9. 12

    “It’s interesting that the CPF companies like Microsoft who cry out the loudest against the patent system seem to be the biggest bulk-filing abusers of it, as if they are trying to destroy it from the inside. Like a cancer.”

    They might not be innovative in terms of software, but you can’t deny their innovative use of patents to destroy the system from the inside out. Perhaps they should patent that.

  10. 11

    “Readers, who embarrasses you more, me or the guy who calls himself ‘Real Anonymous’?”

    [raises hand]


  11. 10

    You’re a card “Real Anonymous” You put your antonym into my sentence, then you put quotation marks around it and then you announce it as another announcement of my “constant” anti-American perspective. Seeing what you want to see, aren’t you (and then, if not, you change it to what you want to see)? I think you’re the one with the problem, not me. Is this behaviour typical of your lawyering, Real, for which you expect your clients actually to pay you? Readers, who embarrasses you more, me or the guy who calls himself “Real Anonymous”?

  12. 9

    “…as if they are trying to destroy it from the inside…”

    shhhh – don’t leak the secret of the anti-patent crowd. Patents are evil, but we’ll (ab)use them. Copyrights are evil (we’ll use them and call them copyleft). Any ownership of intellectual property is evil – we should all share everything.

  13. 8

    “Seems to me entirely rational of MS to abuse the system as it is, while trying to change it.”

    Fixed. Thanks for the constant anti-American perspective, Max. You are a real trooper, always vigilant, always reliable. And that’s certainly admirable. 🙂

  14. 7

    Seems to me entirely rational of MS to use the system as it is, while trying to change it. And all in the best interest of its holy shareholders. Rather like the socialist politicians in the UK, who campaign for abolition of private schools but at the same time care passionately about their kids getting a good education and so at the same time send their kids to private schools. Are they hypocritical? Yes. Are they sensible? Doubly Yes. Are they pragmatic? Triply Yes. And, as a bonus, “caring” as well.

  15. 6

    Dennis, the two red portions of your graphs look eerily similar. Perhaps every Microsoft patent mentions Linux?

    If we don’t correlate the overload problems the Patent system has experienced in the last 15 years with the boom in patent filings that has had *nothing* to do with innovation but everything to do with portfolio cross-licensing (making $$$, modeled after the successful IBM implementation), we’re not seeing the whole story. (The boom follows the MS filing data to a “T”.)

    Microsoft is a prime example of the patent-to-make-money-without-innovating model. Perhaps you should have a class that studies the after-effects of the Gerstner unused-IP licensing model, and how it was embraced by less much innovative companies like Microsoft with the hopes (later realized) of producing the same financial windfall.

    We need to honestly ask if 10,000 Microsoft patents is a good thing or a bad thing for the country? Is it really reflective of skyrocketing innovation in Redmond, or is it reflective of something else? And if it is reflective of something else at Redmond (which arguably has nothing to do with innovation), then is that what we should be encouraging use of the patent system for, or should we try to eliminate such behavior (without harming true innovation) before it destroys the patent system in toto?

    It’s interesting that the CPF companies like Microsoft who cry out the loudest against the patent system seem to be the biggest bulk-filing abusers of it, as if they are trying to destroy it from the inside. Like a cancer.

  16. 4

    Seems like all the comments about the mysterious disappearance of the application in the In re Wheeler case have been removed, begging for an explanation. After all, the serial number was included on front page of the CAFC decision…

  17. 3

    Does anyone know what happened to the post about the glasses? The one with the dialog about the In re Wheeler case?

  18. 1

    That an interesting amount of patents that reference “Linix”. What makes it really interesting is that the standard spelling of the operating system that you were trying to search for is “Linux”.

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