About Brad Smith

About Brad Smith

Brad Smith

Brad Smith is Microsoft's general counsel and executive vice president of Legal and Corporate Affairs. He leads the company's Department of Legal and Corporate Affairs (LCA), which has approximately 1,100 employees located in 55 countries. Mr. Smith is responsible for the company's legal work, its intellectual property portfolio and patent licensing business as well as its government affairs and philanthropic work. He also serves as Microsoft's corporate secretary and its chief compliance officer.

Mr. Smith currently co-chairs the board of directors of Kids in Need of Defense (KIND) and is the chair-elect of the Leadership Council on Legal Diversity. In Washington state, Mr. Smith has served as chair of the Washington Roundtable, a leading Washington state-based business organization, and he has advanced several statewide education initiatives.

Mr. Smith currently serves as president of the Association of General Counsel. Earlier this year, he was named by the National Law Journal as one of the 100 most influential lawyers in the United States.

Mr. Smith has been general counsel since 2002. He can be followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/#BradSmi.

  • Adding our Voice to Concerns about Search in Europe

    Posted by Brad Smith
    Senior Vice President & General Counsel, Microsoft Corporation

    Microsoft is filing a formal complaint with the European Commission as part of the Commission’s ongoing investigation into whether Google has violated European competition law. We thought it important to be transparent and provide some information on what we’re doing and why.

    At the outset, we should be among the first to compliment Google for its genuine innovations, of which there have been many over the past decade.  As the only viable search competitor to Google in the U.S. and much of Europe, we respect their engineering prowess and competitive drive.  Google has done much to advance its laudable mission to “organize the world’s information,” but we’re concerned by a broadening pattern of conduct aimed at stopping anyone else from creating a competitive alternative.

    We’ve therefore decided to join a large and growing number of companies registering their concerns about the European search market.  By the European Commission’s own reckoning, Google has about 95 percent of the search market in Europe.  This contrasts with the United States, where Microsoft serves about a quarter of Americans’ search needs either directly through Bing or through our partnership with Yahoo!. 

  • Our Licensing Deal with Samsung: How IP Drives Innovation and Collaboration

    Posted by Brad Smith & Horacio Gutierrez
    General Counsel & Deputy General Counsel, Microsoft

    Today, Microsoft announced a patent cross-licensing agreement with Samsung that will provide coverage under Microsoft’s patent portfolio for Samsung’s mobile phones and tablets. The agreement also gives both companies greater patent coverage relating to each other’s technologies, and opens the door to a deeper partnership in the development of new phones for the Windows Phone platform.

    In the context of all the attention intellectual property matters have received in recent months, it’s worth taking a moment to reflect on the meaning and impact of these agreements. The Samsung license agreement marks the seventh agreement Microsoft has signed in the past three months with hardware manufacturers that use Android as an operating system for their smartphones and tablets. The previous six were with Acer, General Dynamics Itronix, Onkyo, Velocity Micro, ViewSonic and Wistron.

    Together with the license agreement signed last year with HTC, today’s agreement with Samsung means that the top two Android handset manufacturers in the United States have now acquired licenses to Microsoft’s patent portfolio.

    [Read more...]

  • Appreciating our Immigration System

    UPDATE: April 1, 2009 - 10:30 a.m. Pacific Posted by Brad Smith General Counsel As I mentioned in my post Monday, today begins the period for U.S. employers to apply for H-1B visas for high-skilled foreign workers. Given the economic downturn...
  • Microsoft Urges U.S. Senate to Pass 'Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act'

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

    Today, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services will begin receiving H-1B petitions filed by employers across America looking to secure the talents of some of the world’s brightest minds.

    Companies like Microsoft—who employ significant numbers of American workers and generate high-paying jobs both directly and indirectly—need to be able to meet their personnel needs with top talent to continue innovating and competing at the highest levels.

    [Read more...]

  • Initiative 1125 is the Wrong Vision for our Transportation Future

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

    Did you know that only eight states in the country have a higher percentage of functionally obsolete bridges than Washington? The fact is, over the past two decades, the Puget Sound region’s transportation infrastructure has failed to keep pace with the region’s population and job growth.

    Enhanced mobility across the region is an important local priority for Microsoft. With nearly 40,000 employees based in the Puget Sound region, the company and our people need an efficient transportation system. It is important to our own business, and it’s important to economic growth, job creation and the quality of life across our state.

    As a company, we’re opposing Initiative 1125 on the Washington state ballot this November because it would seriously undermine improvements to our transportation infrastructure, unfairly eliminate options for commuters, and impact the state’s economy.

    [Read more...]

  • 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.

    [Read more...]

  • Microsoft Offers its Support for the Protect IP Act

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

    Tomorrow, the Senate Judiciary Committee will consider the Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act of 2011 – the PROTECT IP Act. We support the goals and approach of this important legislation, and urge the committee to report it.

    The PROTECT IP Act is aimed at providing new tools to challenge the proliferation of “rogue sites” -- Internet sites that are dedicated to infringing content or counterfeit goods. It would establish both governmental and private rights of action in an effort to address what the U.S. Chamber of Commerce estimates to be a multi-billion dollar a year problem that threatens U.S. creators and innovators, places U.S. consumers at risk, harms our economy and costs American jobs.

  • Putting Privacy First in 2013

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

    As 2012 draws to a close, we’re starting to see a number of “year-in-review” pieces recapping key developments in the tech industry over the past 12 months. One item that I think deserves to be near the top of these year-end lists is an issue to which we and others have been paying especially close attention.

    Online privacy.

    We continue to strive to put privacy first for our customers, while recognizing that providing consumers with more choice and control of their privacy requires strong collaboration with a number of stakeholders. We often have a unique perspective in these discussions: We have billions of paying customers, as well as a thriving advertising business.

    We’re looking ahead to 2013 to continue our efforts to put our customers front and center with respect to privacy, while also working with the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), consumer groups, the advertising industry, and government officials to seek a clear path forward. But first, let’s look at some of the progress made this year, and what future success could look like.

    [Read more...]

  • Welcome to Microsoft On The Issues

    Posted by Brad Smith General Counsel When Microsoft was founded in 1975, software was a little-known product in a niche industry outside the public eye. Today, thanks to the proliferation of powerful computing devices in everything from cars to mobile...
  • It’s Time to Move Forward on the Highway 520 Bridge Replacement

    Posted by Brad Smith General Counsel Anyone who has traveled from downtown Seattle to Microsoft’s corporate campus likely has encountered one of our region’s unique transportation challenges: Lake Washington, the large body of water...
  • Jobs Follow Talent: The Need for Education and High-Skilled Immigration Reform

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

    Today, I had the opportunity to discuss the need for education and high-skilled immigration reform when I testified before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration, Refugees and Border Security at a hearing on “The Economic Imperative for Immigration Reform.”

    The essence of my testimony is that while we undoubtedly have a jobs problem in this country, closer analysis shows it is also a talent and skills problem. In a world where jobs follow talent, we need to increase the skills of the American workforce if we are to succeed economically.

    Education is clearly a priority. Today, we face a dual unemployment rate. The Bureau of Labor Statistics last month estimated that the unemployment rate for individuals with a college degree or more is only 4.4 percent. For those individuals with only a high school diploma, the unemployment rate is 10 percent. And the problem may get worse. According to a recent Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce study, between 1973 and 2008, the share of jobs in the U.S. economy that required postsecondary education rose from 28 percent to 59 percent. This share is projected to rise to 63 percent by 2018. The same study shows that by 2018 we are likely to fall short on the number of college graduates our economy needs. We have a skills gap.

    [Read more...]

  • Privacy and Technology in Balance?

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

    This week, I had the opportunity to speak in Uruguay at the 34th International Conference of Data Protection and Privacy Commissioners. This conference brings together leading authorities on privacy from more than 50 countries, including many of the key government officials and regulators responsible for privacy policies around the world. It provides a great opportunity to engage in a dialogue about one of the most important topics facing our industry today. The theme of the conference was “Privacy and Technology in Balance,” a theme that describes well both the challenge we face and how we think about the goal.

    In my remarks, I focused on a few key questions. First, does privacy still matter? And second, how has technology changed the nature of privacy? I also talked about the way we all need to come together – the technology industry, advertisers, government, publishers and others – to shape a thoughtful and consistent approach to privacy that respects the needs and expectations of consumers while balancing the many other benefits that today’s technology and use of data can provide.

    [Read more...]

  • The Patent System: Fix What’s Broken, Don’t Break What’s Working

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

    Earlier today, I participated in an event on Capitol Hill about the U.S. patent system and software patents sponsored by BSA│The Software Alliance and the National Association of Manufacturers. Panelists included representatives of tech companies, manufacturers, and start-ups, and it was interesting to see the extent to which all of us innovate in software and rely on the patent system to incentivize and protect those innovations.  This is not surprising: we live in a digital world. Many things that used to be done mechanically or via hardware – such as throttle control systems – are now implemented in software. 

    Recent studies from the Department of Commerce and the Brookings Institution show that patents drive job creation, productivity, and economic growth today.  Given the benefits of the patent system, it is important to ensure that it functions well. As I mentioned in my remarks today, there is no question that the U.S. patent system has tremendous strengths but also significant weaknesses. All of us – private companies, the USPTO, Congress and the courts – share responsibility for taking steps to improve the operation of the patent system. From Microsoft’s perspective, the key opportunities relate to increasing transparency, curbing litigation abuse, and improving patent quality.  Specific reforms we support include:

    [Read more...]

  • Strengthening American Competitiveness and Creating Opportunity for the Next Generation

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

    The United States faces a growing economic challenge – a substantial and increasing shortage of individuals with the skills needed to fill the new jobs the private sector is creating. Throughout the nation and in a wide range of industries, there is an urgent demand for workers trained in the STEM fields — science, technology, engineering and mathematics — yet there are not enough people with the necessary skills to meet that demand. Our nation faces the paradox of a crisis in unemployment at the same time that many companies cannot fill the jobs they have to offer. In addition to the short-term consequences for businesses and individuals, we risk these jobs migrating from the U.S., creating even bigger challenges for our long-term competitiveness and economic growth.

    As an employer, we see these challenges first hand and are committed to doing what we can to help. One way we can help is to shine a light on these challenges and offer ideas and solutions. That’s why today we published a detailed whitepaper documenting ideas for a National Talent Strategy that would help secure U.S. competitiveness and economic growth. I also had the opportunity to discuss these ideas in a speech at the Brookings Institution today.

    [Read more...]

  • Privacy for Today’s Technology: Putting People First

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

    One of the most important policy discussions emerging this year is the effort to update privacy laws in Europe and the United States. This is welcome news. Key laws governing privacy and security on both sides of the Atlantic have not been overhauled in a significant manner for two to three decades, yet technology – and society – has changed dramatically.

    This morning I spoke at the International Association of Privacy Professionals’ Global Privacy Summit about these efforts. At Microsoft, we support the work here in the U.S. and in Europe to update privacy laws to reflect changes in technology, and the many new and different ways people and organizations gather and use information.


    Brad Smith
    Microsoft General Counsel Brad Smith speaking at the International Association of Privacy Professionals’ Global Privacy Summit in Washington, D.C. on March 8.


    [Read more...]

  • The Time Has Come to Help Youth Cross the Opportunity Divide

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

    A good deal of discussion at the World Economic Forum in Davos this week has focused on “The Great Transformation” and how technology, leadership and innovation can improve the state of the world for future generations. It’s a vital discussion. Young people represent our collective future. They will be our leaders, our doctors, our scientists, our teachers, innovators and entrepreneurs. But today young people face enormous challenges. While specific challenges vary around the world, it is clear that a fundamental challenge is emerging everywhere – an opportunity divide for young people. While some young people are prospering, others are struggling because they lack the education, skills or opportunities they need to succeed.

    More than 100 million youth worldwide lack access to any sort of education and more than 77 million young people are unemployed. Unemployment rates are consistently higher for young people than any other group. There has been unprecedented change in recent years, from a surge in international trade that has fundamentally changed the global economy to major breakthroughs in science that have transformed the way we live. Technology has been a major driving force behind this change, and a major force for good in our economies and societies. But these forces have also created new challenges and caused new dislocations. And the rate of change isn’t slowing.

    [Read more...]

  • Keeping Top Talent for Our Economy

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

    This has been an important week for immigration reform efforts in Congress. Reflecting the rising recognition that our country wins when we invite the world's best minds into the American community, two important new bills were introduced in the Senate. These bills would put into action the words that have become a growing chorus in the immigration policy debate: It makes no sense to educate top students from around the globe in our universities, only to send them – and their brainpower and U.S. training – off to compete with us from abroad.

    This week, Senator John Cornyn (R-Texas) introduced the Securing the Talent America Requires for the 21st Century, or "STAR" Act. This bill would reallocate 55,000 immigrant visas per year to those who have earned a master's degree or a Ph.D. in science, technology, engineering or mathematics (the STEM fields) from a U.S. university. Also this week, we saw the bipartisan introduction of the Sustaining our Most Advanced Researchers and Technology (SMART) Jobs Act of 2012, by Senators Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Chris Coons (D-Del.)

    [Read more...]

  • Important Progress for the 520 Bridge

    Posted by Brad Smith Senior Vice President and General Counsel We recently reached out to the people of the Puget Sound area to help advance a critical local and state issue: the timely replacement and expansion of the SR-520 bridge across Lake Washington...
  • Building Confidence in the Cloud

    Posted by Brad Smith General Counsel [Updated to include video from Voices for Innovation , 3:30 p.m., January 20, 2010] The combination of smart client devices and cloud computing has become the next frontier in information technology, and with...
  • Microsoft’s Board Adopts New “Say-on-Pay” Policy

    Posted by Brad Smith General Counsel and Corporate Secretary and John Seethoff Vice President and Deputy General Counsel We’ve blogged in the past about Microsoft’s commitment to strong corporate governance, and our belief in the...
  • A Big Year Ahead for the Supreme Court and the Information Economy

    Posted by Brad Smith General Counsel Today the Supreme Court begins its 2009-2010 term. It promises to be an important session, not least because the Court and new Justice Sonia Sotomayor will grapple with laws that are at the heart of the information...
  • Unlocking the Promise of the Cloud in Government

    Posted by Brad Smith 
    Senior Vice President and General Counsel

    Over the past few months, starting with my January speech at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C., I’ve talked a lot about the great potential for cloud computing to increase the efficiency and productivity of governments, businesses and individual consumers. To realize those benefits, we need to establish regulatory and industry protections that give computer users confidence in the privacy and security of cloud data.

    Today, I returned to Washington to continue the discussion as one of the plenary speakers at the Gov 2.0 Expo 2010.

    As I shared during my presentation, we are constantly seeing powerful new evidence of the value of cloud computing.

    Today, for example, we announced that the University of Arizona chose Microsoft’s cloud platform to facilitate communications and collaboration among the school’s 18,000 faculty and staff.   After initially looking at various supposedly “free” online services, the institution selected Microsoft’s Business Productivity Online Suite to update its aging e-mail system and to provide new calendaring and collaboration tools.  U. of A. officials concluded that, as a research university that conducts $530 million in research annually, it needed the enterprise-level security and privacy protections that BPOS could provide, but which the alternative services could not match.

  • Can the U.S. Retain Its Innovation Edge?

    Posted by Brad Smith General Counsel The Conference Board today released an important study about the state of innovation in the United States. This past weekend I read the report, which Microsoft sponsored. Somewhat to my surprise, I found it both...
  • The Importance of Partnership in Education

    Posted by Brad Smith
    SVP and General Counsel, Microsoft Corporation

    In today’s Seattle Times, I wrote an op-ed calling upon Washington state to take new steps to improve education.   While much of this responsibility falls on legislators and educators, it’s also important for businesses to play a role in supporting positive educational reforms.  So, I’d like to describe what we are doing, at Microsoft, to support education at local, national and global levels.  

    • Microsoft recently committed $1 million to support early learning in the Seattle area, through a new Parent-Child Home Program being launched by the United Way.
    • In addition, we have spent $3 million to sponsor the multi-year Microsoft Math Partnership, which has helped eight Washington school districts improve their success rates in middle school math, thus helping students during this formative stage of their education.  We also support a number of local programs that encourage the pursuit of math and science, including MATHCOUNTS, MESA and FIRST Robotics Competitions, which add fun and excitement to learning.
  • Business, Government Must Resist the Impulse to Erect Barriers in Tough Times

    Posted by Brad Smith General Counsel While lots of attention in the U.S. has focused on governmental efforts in Washington to create jobs and economic growth, governments all over the world are grappling with similar challenges. The challenges to...