Microsoft Ups Protection for PC Makers

Microsoft has upped the intellectual property protections it offers to PC makers, which shields them from claims of patent infringement and other IP-related disputes. The move comes after a number of high-profile lawsuits targeting manufacturers using Microsoft software.

New protections will include no monetary limits on legal fees and idemnification from patent claims, copyright claims, as well as trade secret and trademark claims. Microsoft will also provide capped monetary protections for damages and settlements related to an IP case.

The coverage extends to current and future versions of Microsoft software, including Windows Server, SQL Server, Exchange Server, Microsoft Office System, and Windows client software.

"This is a part of our ongoing efforts to respond to the requests of customers and partners. Our partners are telling us that IP issues are becoming increasingly complex, and they appreciate that Microsoft stands behind them and our products," said Brad Smith, senior vice president and general counsel at Microsoft.

Microsoft receives more than $18 billion in software revenues annually from its PC partners, so it's no surprise that Redmond is striving to keep the comfort level high.

"Even if a partner believes it is an unlikely litigation target, business disruption can still result from a legal dispute regarding a key supplier's IP," commented IDC analyst Stephen Graham. "To protect their own interests, partners should make sure they understand the degree of IP protection and the resources available to them from the vendor should an infringement issue arise."

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