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.
Posted by Brad SmithGeneral Counsel & Executive Vice President, Legal & Corporate Affairs, Microsoft
Today we have asked the Attorney General of the United States to personally take action to permit Microsoft and other companies to share publicly more complete information about how we handle national security requests for customer information. We believe the U.S. Constitution guarantees our freedom to share more information with the public, yet the Government is stopping us. For example, Government lawyers have yet to respond to the petition we filed in court on June 19, seeking permission to publish the volume of national security requests we have received. We hope the Attorney General can step in to change this situation.
Until that happens, we want to share as much information as we currently can. There are significant inaccuracies in the interpretations of leaked government documents reported in the media last week. We have asked the Government again for permission to discuss the issues raised by these new documents, and our request was denied by government lawyers. In the meantime, we have summarized below the information that we are in a position to share, in response to the allegations in the reporting:
Not surprisingly, we remain subject to these types of legal obligations when we update our products and even when we strengthen encryption and security measures to better protect content as it travels across the web. Recent leaked government documents have focused on the addition of HTTPS encryption to Outlook.com instant messaging, which is designed to make this content more secure as it travels across the internet. To be clear, we do not provide any government with the ability to break the encryption, nor do we provide the government with the encryption keys. When we are legally obligated to comply with demands, we pull the specified content from our servers where it sits in an unencrypted state, and then we provide it to the government agency.
Yesterday, Washington took an important step in helping create new opportunities for our state’s children and our economy.
Brad Smith, General Counsel and Executive Vice President of Legal & Corporate Affairs at Microsoft and several students look on as Washington state Gov. Jay Inslee signs SHB1472 into law at Rainier Beach High School in Seattle.
Posted by Brad SmithSenior 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!.
Last month at an event on Capitol Hill, Microsoft pledged to put information on the Web that would enable anyone to determine for which patents we are the real party in interest.
As I mentioned in my blog post about the event, transparency regarding patent ownership is an important part of a well-functioning patent system. One of the fundamental objectives of the patent system is to provide notice regarding inventions – not only the nature of what has been invented but who owns the patent.
To followers of technology issues, there are many days when Microsoft and Google stand apart. But today our two companies stand together. We both remain concerned with the Government’s continued unwillingness to permit us to publish sufficient data relating to Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) orders.
Each of our companies filed suit in June to address this issue. We believe we have a clear right under the U.S. Constitution to share more information with the public. The purpose of our litigation is to uphold this right so that we can disclose additional data.
On six occasions in recent weeks we agreed with the Department of Justice to extend the Government’s deadline to reply to these lawsuits. We hoped that these discussions would lead to an agreement acceptable to all. While we appreciate the good faith and earnest efforts by the capable Government lawyers with whom we negotiated, we are disappointed that these negotiations ended in failure.
Posted by Brad Smith & Horacio GutierrezGeneral 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.
Beginning next week – on April 1 – employers can start filing applications for H-1B visas for skilled workers that they are looking to hire to fill open jobs here in the U.S. Many of these potential workers are foreign-born students about to graduate in science, technology, engineering and math from U.S. universities, and are in demand to fill critical jobs in the U.S. economy.
Each year, there are only 85,000 H-1B visas available for highly skilled individuals – 65,000 visas under the regular “cap” and 20,000 for those with advanced degrees from U.S. universities.
This year, many employers and highly skilled potential workers are facing April 1 with increased anxiety since the U.S. government again expects all the H-1B visas for the upcoming fiscal year to be snatched up in the first week.
Washington State can create and fill 160,000 new jobs and reduce its unemployment rate by up to two percentage points over the next five years by closing the gap between the skills employers need and the skills possessed by potential employees. Doing so would also generate $720 million in additional state tax revenues and $80 million more in local tax revenues annually; and save $350 million in state unemployment costs.
That’s the conclusion reached in “Great Jobs Within Our Reach: Solving the Problem of Washington State’s Growing Jobs Skills Gap,” an important new study conducted by Boston Consulting Group in conjunction with the Washington Roundtable.
A great deal of attention, both locally and nationally, has been paid to this skills gap since the start of the recession – so much, in fact, that we sometimes risk losing sight of the magnitude of the opportunity and challenge we face.
Posted by Brad SmithGeneral 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.
Today, the U.S. Senate took a significant first step toward reforming our nation’s broken and outdated immigration system with the introduction of comprehensive legislation by the ‘Gang of 8’ Senators. The bipartisan bill will broaden economic prosperity in both the short and long run by increasing access to the best and brightest talent from around the world, while also providing American students and workers with additional STEM education and training opportunities.
We thank the Senators for their leadership on this proposal and look forward to continuing to help refine the legislation. Microsoft strongly hopes that the legislative process will now move forward, as a comprehensive approach will strengthen our country’s long term economy. The bill contains numerous positive reforms that are essential for the continued growth of the tech sector, such as urgently needed increases in high-skilled visas and solutions to address the extensive backlog in employment-based green cards. It also provides for increased worker portability for visas and removes outdated per country caps for green cards.
Importantly, the legislation also helps us take steps to build our American workforce by establishing a new STEM education fund. The creation of a new STEM fund will help states invest in innovative programs that will build a stronger pipeline of U.S. workers equipped with the right skills for America’s future jobs.
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.
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.
Posted by Brad SmithExecutive Vice President & General Counsel, Microsoft
Today, I joined U.S. Senators Patty Murray and Richard Burr in Washington, D.C. to co-host a veterans roundtable, where we brought together veterans, veteran services organizations and nonprofit organizations to discuss the challenges veterans face returning to the workforce and learn how the public and private sector can work together to give them the opportunities they deserve.
The economic downturn has been particularly hard on the men and women returning from serving our country in the armed forces. The unemployment rate for post 9/11-era veterans has averaged 11.6 percent over the past year – significantly higher than their non-veteran counterparts.
Posted by Brad SmithGeneral Counsel and Senior Vice President, Legal & Corporate Affairs, Microsoft
With Washington students heading back to school, September will see Microsoft build upon the many education-related investments the company has made to date in Washington state, and consider ways of taking them even farther as we move forward.
Microsoft is committed to the future prosperity of Washington, a state where 40,000 of our employees make their homes and many raise their families. Many of our employees have children who attend our public schools and universities, providing us with a daily appreciation for the importance of public education in the state. Central to the company’s commitment to education is our belief that every child in the state should have the opportunity to build the skills needed to compete in the 21st century economy and share in Washington’s future prosperity.
However, the state faces a number of challenges.
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.
November marks the end of a very long election season. It also marks the start of a new beginning. After all the campaigning and the political ads, November provides all of us a time to come together and prepare for the fast-approaching new year.
For example, here in Washington State, a new year gives us a new opportunity to forge new working relationships across the aisle and to coalesce around a shared vision for our state. At a recent meeting of the Washington Council on International Trade, I outlined one possibility for that shared vision with some thoughts on how we might keep Washington competitive in the global economy.
Like most places throughout the country, our state faces a number of significant challenges. But Washington also has some unique strengths. One big opportunity comes from the fact that Seattle is the largest city and port in the continental United States that is closest to Asia. This will not change, and there are a number of different ways that our state should be thinking about how we might build upon this.
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.)
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.
One of the exciting aspects of life in the tech sector is the pace of innovation and speed of change. But the rapid changes can present challenges for policymakers. What, for example, are the policy implications of “big data” and a cloud that transfers data across national and international borders? What are the privacy implications of powerful wearable computers that record audio and video? The University of Washington’s new Tech Policy Lab is a unique interdisciplinary lab designed to help examine these and other questions. Truly understanding these issues, and shaping effective ideas and policies, requires experts in range of diverse disciplines to work together, and the UW’s pioneering approach does just that.
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.
Posted by Brad SmithExecutive 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.
Posted by Brad Smith & Horacio GutierrezExecutive 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.
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.
With 40 percent of all jobs in Washington state tied to trade, the Seattle region has long been described as “A Gateway to the Pacific.” That idea was at the forefront of conversation as business, civic and government leaders gathered last night for the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce’s Regional Leadership Conference. I had the opportunity to address the audience about our region’s future.
I spoke about Puget Sound visionaries such as Thomas Mercer, whose 1854 vision of a canal to connect Puget Sound with Lake Washington and start to create a union of east and west – North America with the Pacific and with Asia – would become reality two generations later.
Today we are announcing Microsoft YouthSpark, a new company-wide initiative designed to help create new opportunities for 300 million youth in 100 countries over the next three years.
We’re launching this initiative because we’re seeing the emergence of an opportunity divide among young people: a gap between those who are prospering and others who are struggling because they lack the education, skills and opportunities they need to succeed. The evidence is clear. We have more young people on the planet than ever before, but they are experiencing a rate of unemployment that is double that of the rest of the population - in some countries youth unemployment has reached 50 percent.
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.