Microsoft Patent Portfolio

Company Overview and Patent Portfolio


Microsoft is an American company that produces a broad range of products from consumer electronics to enterprise software. Microsoft was founded in 1975 and has grown to have 94,000 people employed in 2011. Despite having invested a staggering € 7.6 bn in R&D, their 2011 sales were just above the sample average.


Region and Number of Patent Application

Despite Microsoft’s massive investment into R&D, they only have 74,536 patent applications published in total. This is partly due to the fact that they are still a young company compared to some of the other companies in the sample, which means that they published significantly less applications in the 1990s. Even though their patent count has increased heavily in recent years, they are still slightly below the sample average.


Citation Analysis

Many of Microsoft’s forward citations are self-citations, but 20,210 self-citations out of all 447,620 forward citations are similar to the average ratio of the sample.


Even if Microsoft continues to increase their number of published patent applications, their inability to actually publish new patents that are considered important in the industry will lead to a situation like the one that Hitachi is trying to recover from. Microsoft’s current technological position is characterised by a growing patent activity and immediacy, but potentially decreasing dominance and scope. As their strong patents expire, so will their dominance if they are not able to turn their R&D investment into basic patents that receive many forward citations. Despite Microsoft’s leading position in R&D investment, they are not able to turn their advantage into a leading position in terms of technological progress. Instead they have the characteristics of a follower according to Campbell’s (1983) company types.

Analysis of the Patent Portfolio (PDF)

You can find the complete patent portfolio analysis of Microsoft below: