Confidentiality in patents


I'm confused about this: "Confidentiality has been a key strategy for Microsoft" From an article about Microsoft patents and Android. Link:

The part that I'm confused about is that it sounds like Microsoft isn't releasing the information about the patents that Samsung. Even if the confidentiality is between Microsoft and Samsung, it's still confusing to me. The reason it's confusing is how would a person (or business) know if they are developing something that's in violation of Microsoft's patent?

I understand (could be wrong) that during the approval process the patent information can be private, but after a patent is approved, wouldn't Microsoft be forced to say exactly what patents are at issue?

Second part: Can a person claim a patent on a product without saying what the patent covers? In other words, file a patent, build the product, identify that the product is patent pending and not have any obligation to say what is covered by the patent.

If not, what exactly is confidential about what Microsoft is doing?


Posted 2015-02-10T07:59:07.700

Reputation: 11



It is the agreements and licensing arrangements that are confidential; not the patents.

A "confidential patent" is almost an oxymoron. The idea of a patent is to allow an inventor to benefit from limited exclusive rights to their invention in exchange for detailed public disclosure of how it works. That is how we leave in place the incentives to invent (so the inventor can benefit from their inventions without hording their trade secrets to themselves) while allowing society as a whole to innovate and improve upon earlier works.

Robert Cartaino

Posted 2015-02-10T07:59:07.700

Reputation: 622

This is exactly the way I've always understood it, and that's why I'm confused about why it took China to release Microsoft's secret list of Android patents:

– KarlJay – 2015-02-10T18:01:01.920


According to confidentiality clause of agreement between licensed company and Microsoft

Microsoft-Samsung contract is expressly intended to remain secret: Its terms are declared to be “Confidential Information,” prohibiting Samsung from making “any public statement regarding the specific terms of {the} Agreement” without Microsoft’s consent.

Patent list never came public.

China disclosed the patent list since its not bound with confidentiality. Patent List word document

Since Microsoft itself not indulging in Android phone manufacturing it need not to list patents relevant to said product. Sometime listing patent may lead to design around.


Posted 2015-02-10T07:59:07.700

Reputation: 2 115