February, 2014

  • Strengthen the patent system by invalidating overly broad patents

     Posted by Horacio Gutierrez
    Deputy General Counsel & Corporate Vice President, Legal & Corporate Affairs, Microsoft

    On Friday, Microsoft filed an amicus brief in the Supreme Court in support of affirmance in the Alice Corp. v. CLS Bank case. Our interest in this case is to ensure the Supreme Court understands the difference between true technological innovations and the types of business method patents at issue in this case. Adobe and HP joined Microsoft on the brief.

    Simply put, Alice Corp’s patents have nothing to do with software or computer technology. They relate to a method for reducing “settlement risk” in business transactions. They do not advance the state of technology, nor do they allow com­puters to execute the steps of a business trans­action faster, more efficiently or more reliably than they could before.

    [Read more...]

  • Conundrums in cyberspace — exploiting security in the name of, well, security

     Posted by Scott Charney
    Corporate Vice President, Trustworthy Computing, Microsoft

    At Microsoft, establishing and sustaining trust with our customers is essential. If our customers can’t rely on us to protect their data—whether from crooks, mismanagement or excessive government intrusion—they will look elsewhere for a technology provider.

    Government access to data is a hot topic. But it’s not new. In fact, our General Counsel, Brad Smith, has addressed the issue in a series of blog posts covering, among other topics, our efforts to protect customers and our support for reforming government surveillance.

    On Tuesday at the RSA Security Conference in San Francisco, I gave a speech on the changing cybersecurity landscape and the respective roles of governments, users and the IT industry. I’d like to share some of my thoughts here.

    [Read more...]

  • More work needed to protect European Union from patent trolls

     Posted by Horacio Gutierrez
    Deputy General Counsel & Corporate Vice President, Legal & Corporate Affairs, Microsoft

    In less than a month, European leaders will come together to finalize the draft rules of procedure for the Unitary Patent Court. On Tuesday, a diverse cross-industry coalition of nearly 20 companies and associations urged the European Union to make further amendments to the rules to support innovation, while deterring patent trolls from entering the EU patent space.

    The rules of procedure are the blueprint for the Unitary Patent Court, which will govern patent disputes for most of the EU. If these rules are sound, companies doing business in Europe will be able to innovate more efficiently.

    [Read more...]

  • Microsoft and Politico present Fourth Annual State Solutions Conference in Washington, D.C.

    Posted by Jeff Meisner
    Editor, Microsoft on the Issues

    On Feb. 21, four governors and approximately 150 policy thought-leaders joined us at the Microsoft Innovation & Policy Center for the fourth annual State Solutions Conference with Politico, previewing the National Governors Association’s annual winter meeting in Washington, D.C.

    The two-part event featured one-on-one conversations with governors from across the country and senior Politico reporters on the innovative approaches that states have taken to address complex problems.

    [Read more...]

  • Microsoft voices support for FCC’s net neutrality announcement

    Posted by David Tennenhouse
    Corporate Vice President, Microsoft Technology Policy

    The Internet is critical to our economy and our future. Today, it enables anyone, anywhere, to connect, access content and share ideas. These attributes have been at the center of the Internet’s ability to catalyze innovation in numerous industries, create new employment opportunities and positive economic growth.

    For this to carry on, consumers must continue to have access to any legal content and services they choose, and their traffic should not be subject to unreasonable discrimination by their broadband provider. 

    [Read more...]

  • Microsoft Translator expanded, Language Toolbox launched in celebration of Mother Language Day

     Posted by Carla Hurd
    Microsoft Local Language Program

    On Friday, Microsoft announced the expansion of Microsoft Translator with the addition of Welsh and the launch of Language Toolbox, both in celebration of UNESCO’s International Mother Language Day.

    Language Toolbox is a collection of free tools and resources related to Microsoft language technologies. Also on Friday, Microsoft recognized the important role American Sign Language (ASL) plays in the lives of deaf and hard of hearing individuals.

    [Read more...]

  • Leading the way on patent transparency

     Posted by Horacio Gutierrez
    Deputy General Counsel & Corporate Vice President, Legal & Corporate Affairs, Microsoft

    On Thursday, the Administration issued a call to America’s innovation community to help strengthen the patent system by providing the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office the information, tools and resources it needs to perform its vital function.

    Microsoft applauds and supports these efforts. The U.S. patent system is the engine for our economy, incentivizing the creation of new technologies that are essential to America’s ability to compete in markets around the world. All stakeholders, including those of us in the private sector, have a key role to play in keeping this system healthy.

    [Read more...]

  • Microsoft and global law enforcement leaders team up to fight cybercrime

    Posted by David Finn
    Executive Vice President & Associate General Counsel, Microsoft Cybercrime Center

     Last week, Microsoft hosted our first Cybercrime Enforcement Summit. More than 60 global law enforcement leaders and cybercrime experts met in Redmond for two days of closed-door sessions, discussing best practices and concrete steps to protect people online.

    As I reflect upon the event, I think there are three key takeaways that will guide the efforts of all of those that attended:

    1. Actions speak louder than words

    We are entering a new era of collaboration where there is a shared recognition that only through strong partnerships can we not only keep pace with cybercriminals, but get ahead of them.

    [Read more...]

  • Microsoft and Voxx Electronics sign licensing agreement for rear seat entertainment devices

    Posted by Simmone Misra
    Director, Corp. IP Licensing, Microsoft

    On Thursday, Microsoft announced a worldwide patent licensing agreement with Voxx Electronics, a leading provider of mobile and consumer devices. The agreement provides broad coverage for devices running the Android OS, including rear seat devices and tablets. This represents Microsoft’s first Android licensing deal in the automotive sector.

    [Read more...]

  • Microsoft focuses on employing and training our nation’s veterans

    Posted by Jeff Meisner
    Editor, Microsoft on the Issues

    How can the private sector best help our nation’s veterans successfully transition from the military to civilian employment? On Tuesday, leading experts and veterans gathered at the Microsoft Innovation & Policy Center in Washington, D.C. to focus on answering these questions and to explore best practices. The engaging and interactive discussion examined how government and industry can work together to help our returning soldiers transition to civilian careers.

    House Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Jeff Miller (R-Fla.) delivered opening remarks and provided an overview of the challenges facing veterans as they enter the workforce and the importance of bipartisan collaboration with industry to help our nation’s heroes find post-military employment.

    [Read more...]

  • Reflections on the 1-year anniversary of critical infrastructure cybersecurity initiatives

     Posted by Scott Charney
    Corporate Vice President, Trustworthy Computing, Microsoft

    Last February, both the United States and the European Union announced major cybersecurity policy initiatives. In the U.S., the Executive Order on Improving Critical Infrastructure Cybersecurity put forward an industry-driven approach to developing a Cybersecurity Framework, and emphasized the role of incentives to encourage use of the Framework. In the EU, the European Commission proposed a draft Network and Information and Security (NIS) Directive that suggested a broader scope and a more regulatory approach than that in the Executive Order, including the mandatory disclosure of cybersecurity incidents. One year later, I wanted to offer observations about these initiatives, as both have advanced on their respective tracks.

    [Read more...]

  • Continuing our support for government surveillance reform

     Posted by Frederick S. Humphries Jr.
    Vice President of U.S. Government Affairs, Microsoft

    People from around the world are increasingly coming together to call for increased reform of government surveillance, and Microsoft sees Tuesday’s effort as a broad demonstration of that growing momentum. At Microsoft, we believe further reform is essential for our customers, our company and society at large – not only to help ensure the right balance between privacy and security, but to demonstrate our understanding that without liberty, we do not have security. 

    [Read more...]

  • Microsoft asks people to “Do 1 Thing” to stay safer online for Safer Internet Day

     Posted by Jacqueline Beauchere
    Chief Online Safety Officer, Microsoft

    To mark Safer Internet Day (SID) 2014, Microsoft asks people to “Do 1 Thing” to stay safer online and to make that one thing part of their daily digital routines.

    As part of this campaign, on Monday we’re launching a new interactive website Safer Online, where individuals can share their “Do1Thing” promise; learn what others are doing to help protect themselves online, and get instant tips to enhance and better protect their digital lifestyles.

    [Read more...]

  • U.S. Safer Internet Day Celebration stresses positive uses of technology

    Editor’s Note: The following is a guest post from Larry Magid, Co-director of ConnectSafely.org.

    Safer Internet Day (SID) has been celebrated in Europe and around the world since 2004. While Microsoft and other companies and organizations have sponsored Safer Internet Day programs in the U.S. over the years, there has yet to be an officially sanctioned U.S. event supported by a wide coalition of companies, non-profit organizations and government entities, until now.

    This year ConnectSafely.org was appointed as the first U.S. Node, an ambassador organization, if you will, for Safer Internet Day. On Feb. 11, it will host the official U.S. Safer Internet Day 2014 event in Washington, D.C.

    The event will be a celebration of the positive ways in which we all use the Internet. Young people, educators, representatives from technology companies, youth-serving organizations and government officials, including U.S. Senator Charles “Chuck” Schumer (D-N.Y.), will speak along with a panel discussion featuring students from around the country and another panel with leaders from Instagram, Tumblr, Twitter, Xbox Live and YouTube. European Commission Vice President Neelie Kroes will participate via video. In addition, the event will be streamed live on Facebook Live and at SaferInternetDay.us

    [Read more...]

  • Providing additional transparency on US government requests for customer data

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

    Today we are updating our transparency reporting to provide new information relating to governmental demands for customer data.  Beginning last summer, Microsoft, Google, and other companies filed lawsuits against the U.S. government arguing that we have a legal and constitutional right to disclose more detailed information about these demands.  We contended that we should be able to disclose information about legal orders issued pursuant to U.S. national security laws such as the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), which we had previously been barred from disclosing.

    As a result of that litigation and after lengthy discussions, the Government recently agreed for the first time to permit technology companies to publish data about FISA orders. While there remain some constraints on what we can publish (more details on that below), we are now able to present a comprehensive picture of the types of requests that we receive from the U.S. Government pursuant to national security authorities.

    [Read more...]