New Delhi: The chief patent counsel for Microsoft Corp., Bart Eppenauer, spoke in an interview about his company’s growing engagement with Indian patent offices and law firms to strengthen its intellectual property portfolio in the country. Edited excerpts:
What brings you to India?
Portfolio manager: Microsoft chief patent counsel Bart Eppenauer. Ramesh Pathania / Mint
I am here visiting my colleagues for patent related business. I’m the chief patent counsel for Microsoft and my role includes developing and managing Microsoft’s worldwide patent portfolio. And we have a number of significant development centres here that are contributing amazing things to Microsoft. I’m also meeting law firms and officials at the patent offices to brief them on the kind of work we do.
Will you be getting in touch with universities to get a sense of the patents they hold? A couple of years ago, another US company, Intellectual Ventures, which scouts for interesting patents from across the world, set up a centre in Bangalore for similar purposes.
One of the things that we are doing in this trip is going to Bangalore and meeting intellectual property groups and having discussions on intellectual property management there. There’s a meeting with Intellectual Ventures Management Llc and we may have some discussions with academia, if we can fit that in our schedule.
What is India’s contribution to your overall patent portfolio?
In the last four-five years, over 250 patent applications have come out of our development centres in India. That’s about 10-15% of the total applications of our yearly patent filings. One of the things we have realized is that we could significantly increase our filings, but we’d rather restrict them to those that are of a high quality.
Another interesting thing that’s happening on the patent front in India is a proposed legislation on the lines of Bayh-Dohl Act that in the US is credited with greatly accelerating technologies spin out from federally-funded research. Do you think such an exercise could be useful to India too?
Intellectual property is really a key step in taking ideas from innovations to creating properties. So if this is going to be making organizations looking at the products of their research more closely and helping derive greater value, I think it will be a great step forward.
Have you yet shared or signed intellectual property deals with Indian companies?
Off the top of my head, I don’t recall any such deals with Indian companies.