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Microsoft expands IP licensing program

In push to license more intellectual property to start-ups, the company taps overseas states and releases new technology.

Microsoft is stepping up efforts to license technologies from its research efforts to entrepreneurs and small businesses.

The company is marketing a special portfolio of intellectual property to economic development agencies in Europe and Asia as a tool to support local start-ups, Microsoft said Monday. So far it's signed up Enterprise Ireland and The Finnish National Fund for Research and Development.

"Microsoft is an intellectual property company," Brad Smith, Microsoft senior vice president and general counsel, said in a statement. "By extending the reach of IP Ventures through government agencies, we believe new businesses will bring more technology to market faster, and they'll also contribute back to local economies."

Microsoft , called IP Ventures, in May. With a focus on small businesses, the six-person program was a shift for the company, which had focused much of its intellectual-property licensing effort on larger firms.

In addition to new agreements with government agencies, Microsoft has nearly doubled the number of technologies it licenses through the program. Among the new technologies the company is offering are an image-editing program that lets users manipulate and move objects in pictures and photographs, a system for assembling high-bandwidth Internet connections from cell phone signals and touch-screen displays that use cheap, acrylic plastic.

The company also licenses the technology directly to venture capital firms and small businesses.