March 6, 2006 9:00 PM PST
Microsoft gets 5,000th patent
The patent milestone represents a key marker for the software maker in its recent push to boost its patent filings and then license its technology to other companies.
The milestone patent covers technology used to provide a distinct "spectator experience" for video games, a technique used extensively in the Xbox 360.
The company increasingly has used its patent holdings as leverage in licensing to companies small and large. Microsoft has also banked on its intellectual property portfolio to protect its customers in intellectual property disputes, a move the company has heavily touted in its pitch against Linux.
The company, which a decade ago filed only a few hundred patent applications per year, now annually files roughly 3,000 applications.
That filing rate is unlikely to climb much higher, said Bart Eppenauer, the Microsoft lawyer who heads the company's patent effort.
"Three thousand is an awful lot," said Eppenauer, who noted that Microsoft is now among the top five technology companies in terms of patent filings.
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