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Healthy IP Protection Also Promote Interoperability

Healthy IP Protection Also Promote Interoperability

Interoperability is one specific example of how the IP system encourages greater collaboration and licensing of different companies’ innovative technologies among each other for the benefit of users. Interoperability is not a fixed or well defined concept, but refers to different ways in which products and services can work better together. With ICT interoperability in particular, IP’s so-called fence has become much more of a bridge than a barrier to collaboration between companies in recent years. This has certainly been the trend at Microsoft, which both licenses in interoperability technologies from numerous other vendors and offers to other companies what is probably the most extensive programme in the industry for licensing out its own interoperability technologies. This is why

Microsoft’s software products work with such a vast number of computers, devices, services and other software products.

The ICT market is even seeing major collaboration projects between companies such as Microsoft and open-source companies to improve interoperability. In 2004, Microsoft and Sun Microsystems entered into a broad cooperation agreement to share technology and for Microsoft to support Java, which has developed among other things into Microsoft’s hosting a joint interoperability laboratory at its headquarters to improve interoperability with Sun’s products. Novell and Microsoft agreed in 2006 to collaborate to promote Linux and Windows interoperability. In February 2008 Microsoft announced an even broader commitment to IP licensing in its Interoperability Principles, a set of broad-reaching changes to the company’s technology and business practices that will increase the interoperability of its six high volume software products. These principles include:

  1. Ensuring open connections to other software and device developers.
  2. Promoting data portability.
  3. Enhancing support for industry standards.
  4. Fostering more open engagement with the industry.

Underpinned by IP protection and market-based IP licensing, there is more inter-industry collaboration on ICT technology taking place than ever before.

[This is an excerpt from the publication released by WIPO called The Role of IP in Promoting Economic Growth through Innovation. To read the complete publication, please visit the Download menu to get a copy]