Azure IP Advantage

Protecting your innovation in the cloud and on the Internet of Things

Reduce risk, innovate with confidence and operate with freedom in the cloud. Azure IP Advantage provides the industry’s most comprehensive protection against intellectual property (IP) risks.

Extend protection for your innovations at the edge

Azure IP Advantage applies to the software running IoT devices connected to Azure. We also offer uncapped indemnification for Azure Sphere and Windows 10 IoT, and the ability to pick from 10,000 Microsoft patents to protect against lawsuits aimed at your own IoT software.

Build confidently with uncapped indemnification

Build on Azure knowing that you have best-in-industry uncapped defence and indemnification coverage. This extends to open-source technology that powers Azure services, such as Apache Hadoop® used for Azure HDInsight. You don’t have to do or pay anything extra – coverage is available if you need it.

Deter and defend litigation with patent pick

Defend against patent litigation targeting your innovation with access to a large patent portfolio. You become eligible for this benefit simply by using Azure regularly. If sued, eligible Azure customers can acquire one of 10,000 patents that Microsoft will make available to help to counterclaim against an aggressor. To learn more about how to pick a patent, read the FAQs.

Get broad protection with a springing licence

We’re pledging to Azure customers that if we transfer patents to non-practising entities (NPEs), those patents can’t be asserted against them. Non-practising entities primarily use patents to generate revenue. While Microsoft doesn’t have a general practice of transferring our patents to NPEs, if it were to occur, a springing licence is available to all eligible Azure customers.

Best-in-industry protection from intellectual property risks

Digital transformation is accelerating, affecting every industry across the globe. Delivering software-based products and services in the cloud creates new business risks, including the possibility of increased IP infringement. Azure IP Advantage fosters a community and business environment that values and helps protect innovation in the cloud.

Additional benefits for start-ups

Start-ups have unique IP challenges, such as risk from non-practising entities, which view small companies and startups as soft targets for patent lawsuits. In addition to the benefits available to all Azure IP Advantage customers, qualified start-ups can also take advantage of:

  • Free LOT Network membership, which prevents NPEs from asserting patents covered by the LOT licence against network members. LOT members can still sell their patents and take legal action against other members. Start-ups can join LOT for free.
  • Up to three free Microsoft patents in technical areas such as artificial intelligence, multimedia and security to help boost their own IP portfolio.

What customers are saying about Azure IP Advantage

“For an international engineering company like thyssenkrupp, Microsoft's Azure IP Advantage program is a great tool for reducing IP risks in the transition to Industry 4.0.”

Dr Stephan Wolke, Head of Intellectual Property & Services, thyssenkrupp
ThyssenKrupp

“We are acutely aware of the need to protect the innovations we’ve developed for IoT deployments across our business units. The Azure IP Advantage program offers yet another example of how Microsoft supports its ecosystem end to end and in this case, to maintain our freedom to provide new services to our customers. We look forward to continued partnership with them as we expand our footprint on the intelligent edge.”

Stuart Bashford, ‪Digital Officer, Bühler AG‬‬‬‬‬‬
Buhler

“At MediaTek, we enable our customers to seize the opportunities offered by the Internet of Things. Azure IP Advantage and its protection for Azure Sphere will help customers focus on their innovations and address their IP challenges.”

Finbarr Moynihan, Vice President of MediaTek Corporate Sales & Business Development (Americas & Europe)
MediaTek

“As we expand our footprint globally, we are pleased to see Microsoft expanding its Azure IP Advantage program to Edge devices and IoT, as we see it as a key additional innovation protection for IoT customers. This will enable us to focus on innovating and growing our business.”

Colin Yu, Technology VP, Envision
Envision

“Microshare provides a data sharing platform for IoT solutions, so managing IP risk is important to building a thriving IoT ecosystem. Microsoft’s efforts with Azure IP Advantage provide useful IP benefits to us and our customers.”

Ron Rock, Microshare CEO
Microshare

“Applied Brain Research builds artificial intelligence systems inspired by the brain. The program’s special benefits for startups are particularly relevant as we seek to expand our patent portfolio and worry less about IP risks.”

Peter Suma, Chairman and Co-CEO, Applied Brain Research
ABR

“At Valohai, we are focused on building innovative machine learning solutions, so having to spend less time worrying about patents is really helpful to us. Azure IP Advantage’s unique benefits for startups helps our company to protect ourself against intellectual property risks.”

Toni Perämäki, COO at Valohai
Valohai

Frequently asked questions about the Azure IP Advantage programme

  • Azure IP Advantage is a programme for Azure customers that offers best-in-industry protection against intellectual property (IP) risks. By participating in this programme, developers can focus on coding, while you focus on running your business with reduced risk and exposure to IP lawsuits without diminishing your own IP rights.

    This programme has three components to help you protect your cloud investments:

    • Uncapped indemnification for customers for IP lawsuits that target first-party Azure-branded services, Azure Sphere and Windows 10 IoT, including open-source software that we incorporate into these products and services
    • A patent pick from 10,000 Microsoft patents to help defend against an IP lawsuit that targets Azure workloads or the software on IoT devices that are connected to Azure
    • A springing licence to any Microsoft patent that’s transferred to a non-practising entity to protect Azure workloads and the software on IoT devices that are connected to Azure

    Eligibility requirements may apply. For benefits specific to start-ups, see Start-up benefits.

  • We’re working to foster a business environment that values and protects innovation, so that your company and developers are free to focus on building transformative technologies.
  • New IP risks emerge as businesses use the cloud to transform and bring more IoT devices online. If you run services in the cloud or are increasing the number of your connected devices, consider your strategy for addressing IP infringement risk. Choose a cloud platform partner who understands these risks and has a comprehensive plan to help you address them.
  • All Azure customers are eligible to participate in Azure IP Advantage. However, the patent pick and springing licence benefits are subject to the eligibility criteria that are described in the Microsoft Azure IP Advantage terms and conditions. The benefits for start-ups are available through the Licence on Transfer (LOT) Network.
  • No. Azure IP Advantage is a feature of the Azure platform. No sign-up or enrolment process is necessary for the indemnification that’s included in our standard customer terms for Azure, Azure Sphere and Windows 10 IoT software offerings. Nor is sign-up or enrolment required for the springing licence and patent pick options if you meet the eligibility requirements that are outlined in the Microsoft Azure IP Advantage terms and conditions. Azure start-ups that join the LOT Network must agree to the network’s reciprocal springing licence commitment and then may choose to receive up to three Microsoft patents through the network. See the Start-up benefits section for details.
  • Visit Azure IP Advantage for more information. If you have any questions, email IPAdvant@microsoft.com.
  • Indemnification is a contractual obligation that the supplier of a product or a service might provide to protect customers from IP infringement claims that are asserted against them for using the supplier’s product or service. In the context of Azure IP Advantage, our indemnification terms protect you from IP infringement claims that arise from your use of Azure platform technologies and their open-source components. For IoT scenarios, indemnification terms are applied to your use of Azure Sphere and Windows 10 IoT on IoT devices.
  • Yes. For many years, we’ve had a practice to indemnify and defend our customers for IP risks as described in our contract terms. With Azure IP Advantage, we also defend IP claims against open-source code that’s included in these product and services.
  • We indemnify open-source software that we incorporate into Azure and provide under our terms. For example, Azure HDInsight – our Hadoop offering – is covered by indemnification. The Linux-based operating system for Azure Sphere is also covered. Open source that’s provided under a separate licence, such as a Linux distribution in a VM, isn’t covered by our terms but might receive indemnification under another provider’s terms. In China, Microsoft Azure Operated by 21Vianet – an independent entity that the Chinese government licenses to provide cloud services under Chinese law – provides indemnification.
  • Our indemnity obligation doesn’t extend to your own data, non-Microsoft products or any modifications you may make to Microsoft software or online services. It also doesn’t cover any customer use that violates the law or damages a third party. Consult the terms of your Microsoft licence agreements for details.
  • The indemnification terms for Microsoft Azure are in the applicable licence agreement. For example, the Microsoft Online Subscription Agreement has the terms in the agreement. The terms for the Microsoft Enterprise Agreement are in the Master Business and Services Agreement. A licence under the Open programmes, a Microsoft Cloud Agreement (the customer agreement for Cloud Services Providers) or the Enrolment for Education Solutions contains the corresponding indemnity language.

    These agreements incorporate the Microsoft Online Service Terms, which were updated on 1 February 2017, to include coverage for open source. If you are in China, see the indemnification provisions in the customer agreements that Microsoft Azure Operated by 21Vianet provides.

    For more information, see the Azure Sphere and Windows 10 IoT licence agreements.

Overview

  • The patent pick deters operating companies from suing Azure customers for patent infringement on their workloads that run in Azure or their software that runs on IoT devices that are connected to Azure. The Azure IP Advantage patent list gives these customers access to a portfolio of patents that they can use for defensive purposes in the context of a lawsuit.
  • We have engaged in a lengthy and careful process to select a portfolio that represented a broad cross-section of technologies within our overall portfolio, weighted towards cloud technologies. Independent patent experts reviewed this diverse portfolio to ensure it provides value to our Azure customers.
  • Yes. We own the patents in the list until they are transferred to a customer as part of Azure IP Advantage. Patents in the list may expire, be transferred to third parties or be included in our patent licensing programmes. We plan to add new patents and update the list from time to time in order to maintain a total list of 10,000 patents.
  • As of 27 March 2019, we have over 60,000 patents worldwide.
  • We have 10,000 patents available in the patent pick. See the Azure IP Advantage patent list for the available issued patents and pending applications. We may modify this list as changes or updates occur.
  • Yes. They include patents from the United States and several other countries. The list also includes pending applications that are ancillary to issued patents in the same patent family.

Usage

  • Although we can’t provide advice on which patent to select, we recommend you consider engaging legal counsel or IP experts for advisement. For a list of IP advisors, see High Tech Solutions and TechInsights.
  • Patents are assigned to the first qualified customer who meets the conditions for a patent transfer and completes the necessary documents to take title to the patent. For details, see the Microsoft Azure IP Advantage terms and conditions.
  • Yes. You must meet the usage requirements for Azure software or services and the other programme requirements.
  • No. The patent pick is available if patent litigation occurs against software that’s running on an IoT device connected to Azure, even if the IoT device is running a non-Microsoft operating system.
  • You may use the patent to counter-assert in a lawsuit for defensive purposes only. Furthermore, you may not use the patent against an Azure workload. Please consult the Microsoft Azure IP Advantage terms and conditions for more details.
  • Yes. All patents are subject to any existing encumbrances.
  • No. The patent pick applies only to lawsuits that were filed after the effective date of Azure IP Advantage, which is 8 February 2017. In China, the patent pick applies to patent infringement lawsuits that were filed after 1 October 2017.
  • In general, no. The patents are made available to you solely for defence against suits regarding your Azure workloads. Please consult the Microsoft Azure IP Advantage terms and conditions for details
  • No. The patent pick helps defend you against lawsuits for which you don’t already receive indemnification.
  • We transfer patents that are selected through the patent pick benefit for a fee that covers the approximate administrative costs that are associated with the transfer – not the market value, which could be much higher. We don’t profit from these patent transfers.
  • Yes. After the patent has been transferred to your company, you own the patent.

Eligibility

  • Any bona fide Azure customer is eligible for the patent pick based on the following requirements:

    1. You’ve paid at least USD 1,000 per month over the past three months for Azure usage.
    2. You’ve remained patent peaceful (no legal action) against Azure workloads in the last two years.
    3. Your Azure workload or the software on your IoT device that’s connected to Azure has been sued for patent infringement.

    For more details, refer to the Microsoft Azure IP Advantage terms and conditions.

  • Your customer invoice or online usage report for Azure indicates monthly Azure usage. If you submit a patent request form, we’ll review your usage and make a final determination of eligibility. A patent request form is available by sending an email request to ipadvant@microsoft.com. Consult the following sources for your monthly Azure usage:

    • If you’re a Web Direct (Microsoft Online Subscription Programme (MOSP)) customer, download the usage details for your subscription from the Azure account centre.
    • If you’re an Enterprise Agreement customer, review the usage summary in the Reports section of the Azure Enterprise Agreement portal.
    • If you buy services through a cloud services provider, review your reseller invoices.
  • No. Eligibility is based on Azure usage, regardless of whether it’s paid in advance or the account is in arrears.
  • No. You must use at least USD 1,000 of Azure services for each of the last three months to qualify for the patent pick.
  • Yes. This usage includes your Azure subscriptions in China that Microsoft Azure Operated by 21Vianet manages.
  • A springing licence is a benefit that comes into being (“springs” into existence) when a defined event occurs. For Azure IP Advantage, eligible customers become fully licensed to one or more Microsoft patents when we transfer such patents to non-practising entities (NPEs). For additional protection, customers can also purchase a LOT Network membership.
  • The LOT Network is multi-party agreement where individual companies elect to provide springing licences to other companies within the network in exchange for a reciprocal commitment to provide a springing licence. We provide the unilateral springing licence to you as part of Azure IP Advantage and don’t require a reciprocal promise in return.
  • Any bona fide Azure customer is eligible if you’ve paid at least USD 1,000 per month over the past three months for your usage of Azure. For more details, see the Microsoft Azure IP Advantage terms and conditions.
  • Start-ups gain additional benefits through a free membership in the LOT Network – an industry organisation that provides protection against NPEs:

    • If a LOT member transfers a patent to an NPE, an automatic free licence to that patent is provided to all LOT members.
    • Qualified Azure start-ups that join the LOT Network may receive up to three free Microsoft patents through LOT in technical areas such as artificial intelligence, multimedia and security.
  • A start-up is qualified to take advantage of the Azure IP Advantage start-up benefits through the LOT Network when:

    • It meets the LOT Network’s criteria for start-ups.
    • Its Azure consumption is greater than USD 1,000 per month for the past three months.

    For more details, see the Patent Transfer programme FAQs on the LOT Network site.

  • Yes. Microsoft joined the LOT Network in October 2018.
  • No. To take advantage of the benefits for start-ups, you must join the LOT Network.
  • Please see the LOT Network for more details about their patent programme.
  • Qualified start-up companies that join the LOT Network and meet its eligibility requirements may select up to three Microsoft patents.
  • Microsoft makes patents available to start-ups through the LOT Network. To obtain these patents, if you are a qualified Azure start-up, first join the LOT Network. The Microsoft patents that you acquire are subject to LOT Network encumbrances, including the reciprocal springing licence that all LOT members provide to all other LOT members. Because these patents were originally Microsoft patents, they are also subject to Microsoft encumbrances. Otherwise, you are not restricted on how you use these patents.
  • Azure IP Advantage is available in every market where Azure cloud services, Azure Sphere or Windows 10 IoT is available. In most countries, Azure services and Azure IP Advantage are available directly from Microsoft. In China, the indemnification benefits are available from Microsoft Azure Operated by 21Vianet, while the patent pick and springing licence are available from Microsoft. For a list of countries where Azure Sphere is available, see Azure Sphere pricing.
  • Yes. For example, the patent pick is available to counter a patent lawsuit that’s asserted against your workload running in Azure operated by Microsoft or in Azure Stack in your own environment or hosted by a reseller.
  • We intend to offer Azure IP Advantage indefinitely. Every customer receives IP indemnification, even if that customer isn’t eligible for other aspects of Azure IP Advantage. We may adjust other parts of Azure IP Advantage to meet evolving business needs.
  • Yes. Your own usage must meet the subscription payment threshold and other requirements as defined in the Microsoft Azure IP Advantage terms and conditions.
  • The defence and indemnity benefits that are part of Azure IP Advantage are also part of the standard terms for Microsoft online service offerings. The patent pick and springing licence benefits, however, are currently available only to eligible Azure customers.
  • Yes. However, you must meet the Azure subscription payment threshold and other requirements as defined in the Microsoft Azure IP Advantage terms and conditions. Your eligibility is determined by your own Azure usage, not your customers’ usage.
  • Azure IP Advantage helps protect your innovation in Azure on a public or private cloud (Azure Stack). You might also want to get insurance for your patent risks.

For patent pick eligibility: You must (i) have an Azure usage of $1000 per month over the past three months; (ii) have not filed patent infringement litigation against another Azure customer for their Azure workloads in the last two years; and (iii) show evidence of current patent litigation that occurred after 8 February 2017. Legal transactional costs apply. For springing licence eligibility: You must have an Azure usage of $1000 per month over the past three months. For start-up benefits: Qualified start-ups are those who meet the LOT Network criteria for start-ups and have an Azure consumption greater than $1000 per month for the past three months.

See the Azure IP Advantage terms and conditions and Azure IP Advantage patent list. Additional terms apply. Contact us to request detailed programme terms and conditions.

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