July, 2012

  • A Solid Foundation for Patent Peace

    Posted by Brad Smith & Horacio Gutierrez
    Executive Vice President & General Counsel and Corporate Vice President & Deputy General Counsel, Microsoft

    July 18 marked the effective date for the International Trade Commission’s order excluding from the U.S. market Motorola’s Android devices that implement Microsoft’s ActiveSync technology. In addition, Microsoft has secured two injunctions against Motorola devices in Germany for its infringement of other Microsoft patents.

    Over the last few weeks, with the imminence of the ITC exclusion order, Google mounted a public relations and lobbying campaign deflecting attention from its refusal to honor its promise to standards bodies to license standards-essential patents on fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory (FRAND) terms, a practice that has prompted regulators on both sides of the Atlantic to investigate its conduct. Unfortunately, we have no reason to believe that Google’s diversionary tactics will cease any time soon, and in fact expect more of them in the future.

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  • The Week in Tech Policy – July 30th Edition

    Posted by Jeff Meisner
    Editor, Microsoft on the Issues

    In this edition of The Week in Tech Policy, we have stories on the online sales tax debate, online education, wireless spectrum and more.

    Reshaping online education. In this July 20 post on his Taking Note blog, veteran NPR and PBS education reporter John Merrow explores the pros and cons of massive online open courses (MOOCs), noting what he calls a “solid overview” by The New York Times on the subject. “Today many of the nation’s leading universities are involved in one or more of the online learning efforts, pioneered by MIT and Harvard several years ago. Here’s a partial list: Duke, Johns Hopkins, Cal Tech, Michigan, Princeton and Rice.” Merrow writes, adding, “Many questions remain unanswered: How will students receive credit? How much will courses cost? What’s to prevent cheating?”

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  • Updating our Shareholders on Microsoft’s Corporate Governance

    Posted by John Seethoff
    Vice President and Deputy General Counsel, Microsoft

    This week, the Governance and Nominating Committee of Microsoft’s board of directors published its annual governance letter to shareholders.

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  • Microsoft-hosted Congressional Debate Previews November Election

    Posted by Mike Egan
    Director of Government Affairs, Microsoft

    Yesterday, Microsoft Political Action Committee partnered with CityClub of Seattle to host a public debate on our Redmond campus among the candidates running for the 1st Congressional District seat in Washington. Because the district is home both to Microsoft’s headquarters and to many of our employees, we thought it important to provide a forum for our employees and the public to hear from the candidates directly and engage in a discussion around the topics that matter to them most.

    Candidates are competing to fill the seat vacated by former Rep. Jay Inslee, who is currently running for governor against Attorney General Rob McKenna. They include Steve Hobbs (D), John Koster (R), Darshan Rauniyar (D) and three former Microsoft employees, Darcy Burner (D), Suzan DelBene (D) and Laura Ruderman (D). Issues discussed by the candidates ranged from their ability to work across party lines, the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act, the DREAM Act and immigration reform, Social Security eligibility reform, raising taxes on high-income individuals, the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens’ United ruling, charter schools, marriage equality and the timetable for withdrawing troops from Afghanistan, among others.

    Microsoft hosted a debate between candidates for the 1st Congressional District race on Wednesday. The candidates from left to right are Darcy Burner (D), Suzan DelBene (D), Steve Hobbs (D), John Koster (R), Darshan Rauniyar (D) and Laura Ruderman (D).

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  • The Week in Tech Policy – July 23rd Edition

    Posted by Jeff Meisner
    Editor, Microsoft on the issues

    In this edition of The Week in Tech Policy, we have stories on cybersecurity, college affordability and STEM education and the H-1B visa program.

    Bipartisan Policy Center: Improved information sharing on cyberthreats needed. In a report issued on July 19, the Bipartisan Policy Center’s Cybersecurity Task Force called for Congress to “pass legislation that encourages industry to share information about cyber threats spotted on their computer networks with the government,” Hillicon Valley reported late last week. “The task force notes that privacy rights should be respected and Congress should be able to find a middle ground on the various privacy safeguards baked into each bill. The report lists the type of information that should be shared with the government, including malware threat signatures, malicious IP addresses and details about a cyber incident,” Hillicon Valley reported. The release of the report comes at a time when both Democrats and Republicans have fielded competing visions and bills related to cybersecurity.

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  • Charting a Course for Privacy Innovations

    Posted by Mike Hintze
    Chief Privacy Counsel, Microsoft

    For any technology company, continuous innovation is essential to stay relevant. But new features and functionality are not enough. Increasingly, consumers want innovations that help them keep their personal information secure and private. And policymakers and regulators are looking to industry to take the lead on creating new tools and policies that enhance privacy and data protection.
    To explore these issues in more detail, last week we hosted our latest “@Microsoft Conversations on Privacy” in our Washington, D.C. office. Our theme was “Empowering Consumers with Privacy Innovations,” and the discussion explored some of the many privacy-enhancing technologies that organizations are developing to assist their customers. We also examined the expectations that regulators and policymakers have for companies to help enhance consumers' data protection, and heard feedback on the progress made in this area to date.

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  • The Week in Tech Policy – July 16th Edition

    Posted by Jeff Meisner
    Editor, Microsoft on the Issues

    Welcome to The Week in Tech Policy, a new weekly roundup that highlights interesting news in key policy that affect the tech industry.  

    Technology is an ever-evolving business, and each week there are plenty of interesting policy-related developments that affect our industry. Our goal is to bring you an easy to digest summary each week of the developments that we think are interesting, or that you may have missed. Visit Microsoft on the Issues every Monday at 6 a.m. to quickly get caught up. We’ll bring you stories from all around the Web on a diverse set of topics including intellectual property, corporate citizenship, high-skilled immigration, education, privacy and more.

    In this, the premier edition of The Week in Tech Policy, we have stories on standard essential patents, digital copyright issues, education and more.

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  • Pulse on Citizenship: Seeking and Setting the Standard for Corporate Responsibility

    Editor’s Note: This post is the first in a new monthly series from Microsoft’s Citizenship team called “Pulse on Citizenship,” which will appear at 6 a.m. PT on the second Wednesday of every month. Pulse on Citizenship will provide insight and commentary on topics and trends in corporate citizenship.

    Posted by Steve Lippman
    Director, Citizenship and Public Affairs, Microsoft

    The Internet gains approximately eight new users every second. Sitting in the Corporate Citizenship team of a large public company like Microsoft, it sometimes feels that there’s a similar rate of growth in the number of global corporate responsibility ratings, certifications and voluntary codes and initiatives. This is an exaggeration of course, but it’s worth noting that the think tank SustainAbility conducted an inventory of corporate responsibility ratings two years ago, which found 108 separate ratings, of which only 21 had existed in 2000. In my experience, the number of ratings has only increased in the two years since that inventory.

    In many ways, that’s great news. It demonstrates the growing recognition of the importance of corporate social responsibility among a wide range of groups, including institutional investors, government policymakers, the media and customers. It provides a wealth of opportunities for feedback, learning and collaborative partnerships between companies and their important stakeholders.

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  • Why Cloud Customers Can’t Ignore Model Clauses, Especially Now

    Posted by Brad Smith
    General Counsel & Executive Vice President, Legal & Corporate Affairs, Microsoft

    This week privacy authorities from all 27 European Union member states adopted a long-awaited Opinion clarifying what companies must do to safeguard the private information of Europe’s citizens when these companies use cloud services. Known as the Article 29 Working Party, the Opinion from these experts is essential reading for every business considering moving to the cloud.

    In issuing this Opinion, European regulators provided the strongest endorsement to date for the European Model Clauses, a set of contractual safeguards that cloud service providers can use to demonstrate their commitment to the world’s most stringent data protection requirements.

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  • Multi-State STEM Education Effort Launched

    Posted by Jeff Meisner
    Editor, Microsoft on the Issues

    Last week, Brad Smith, Microsoft’s general counsel and executive vice president of Legal & Corporate Affairs, joined Jeffrey Wadsworth, CEO of Battelle Memorial Institute, and others at the U.S News STEM Solutions 2012 summit. During the opening panel, moderated by basketball icon and current Global Cultural Ambassador Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, participants spoke to the challenges, successes and needs surrounding STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education in the United States.

    Brad spoke about the need for a more transformative approach to the advancement of STEM education, his involvement in rethinking the role business plays in education, and the types of partnerships needed to improve STEM learning outcomes for students. He also spoke about the importance of combining philanthropy with advocacy work, as well as the importance of the business community using its voice to advocate needed policy changes in state capitals and in Washington D.C.

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