Microsoft gets 5,000th patent

Milestone comes during push to license technology, use intellectual property as a selling point over Linux.

Ina Fried Former Staff writer, CNET News
During her years at CNET News, Ina Fried changed beats several times, changed genders once, and covered both of the Pirates of Silicon Valley.
Ina Fried
Microsoft plans to announce on Tuesday that it has been granted its 5,000th U.S. patent

The patent milestone represents a key marker for the software maker in its recent push to boost its patent filings and then license its technology to other companies.

The milestone patent covers technology used to provide a distinct "spectator experience" for video games, a technique used extensively in the Xbox 360.

The company increasingly has used its patent holdings as leverage in licensing to companies small and large. Microsoft has also banked on its intellectual property portfolio to protect its customers in intellectual property disputes, a move the company has heavily touted in its pitch against Linux.

The company, which a decade ago filed only a few hundred patent applications per year, now annually files roughly 3,000 applications.

That filing rate is unlikely to climb much higher, said Bart Eppenauer, the Microsoft lawyer who heads the company's patent effort.

"Three thousand is an awful lot," said Eppenauer, who noted that Microsoft is now among the top five technology companies in terms of patent filings.