Microsoft expands its patent protection program to include Azure-powered IoT devices

Microsoft is extending its Azure IP Advantage patent-protection program into the IoT space to help its customers fight patent trolls.
Written by Mary Jo Foley, Senior Contributing Editor

Microsoft is expanding its Azure IP Advantage patent-protection program to cover IoT devices connected to Azure. The company also is donating 500 patents to the LOT Network that are targeted specifically at startups.

Microsoft announced its new patent-program extensions, as well as a number of other IoT-focused product updates on March 28, a week ahead of the Hanover Messe industrial manufacturing show in Germany.

Microsoft originally took the wraps off Azure IP Advantage in February 2017. At that time, Microsoft officials said they would make 10,000 Microsoft patents available to Azure customers to help them defend themselves against "baseless patent lawsuits." All Azure customers are automatically covered by Azure IP Advantage.

Today, Microsoft execs said that Azure IP Advantage also will now cover all Azure customers with IoT devices connected to Azure; devices powered by its Azure Sphere microcontroller solution; and Windows IoT.

In October 2018, Microsoft joined the LOT Network as another step intended to try to help fight patent trolls. The LOT Network is a nonprofit community working to fight trolls. The group has nearly 300 members, covering approximately 1.35 million patents, Microsoft officials said.

LOT Members are free to cross-license, assert, sell or do nothing with their patents. But if any member of the LOT Network sells a patent to a troll, all LOT members automatically get a free license to that patent. Microsoft officials said today they now donating 500 patents to LOT that are specifically for startups. Here's how startups can qualify for those.

Microsoft execs also announced today that Azure Sentinel, its new security information and event management (SIEM) service also now covers IoT devices. And Azure IoT Hub now integrates with Azure Security Center directly. 

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