Microsoft’s open designs included in patent applications?

In mid-December, a Microsoft patent application for a blade server design surfaced, showing a design similar to the specs released to the OCP. The patent has yet to be granted.

When asked whether that patent is the same design it offered to the open community this week, Microsoft said it is innovating server architecture for its data centers, including around blades and chasses, and contributing these specifications under the Open Web Foundation agreements, which provide rights under Microsoft patents for implementers.

Despite the open-source nature, there are still benefits to patenting these designs.

“Intellectual property rights are not necessarily incompatible with open systems; they can be used to advance them,” said Kara Swanson, associate professor of law at Northeastern University in Boston, Mass.

“The patentee can license others to make, use, sell or import, exclusively or nonexclusively. It can charge a set fee or a per-item royalty, license in exchange for a cross-license, or license for nothing at all. The choice is theirs,” Swanson said.