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microsoftlogoMicrosoft this morning published a searchable online list of its patent holdings — more than 40,000 patents held by the company and its subsidiaries in the U.S. and internationally — as part of its push for more transparency in the patent system.

(Update, 1 p.m.: The site was initially down, but should be accessible now.)

The company had promised to publish the list by April, to support its call for an end to the common practice of patent owners shielding their true identity. In addition to the searchable Patent Tracker, the list is available as a downloadable CSV file for use in Microsoft Excel or other programs.

The list is searchable by title, number, country and the name of the entity to which the patent has been assigned. It provides basic information about the patent, but for the full text, searchers will need to enter the patent number separately into the the U.S. Patent Office’s online search tool.

“We urge other companies to join us in making available information about which patents they own,” says Microsoft general counsel Brad Smith in a blog post announcing the new Patent Tracker. “By doing so, they will help increase transparency, facilitate licensing, and help ensure that the patent system continues to fulfill its role in promoting and encouraging innovation.”

Microsoft is also asking the U.S. Patent Office to increase its standards for patent reviews, and advocating a “loser pays” system for curbing frivolous lawsuits. Microsoft is also asking companies to pledge not to seek injunctions on standard-essential patents, an issue at the crux of its ongoing legal dispute with Google’s Motorola division.

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