Here’s your feel good moment for the week: Microsoft won one of two slots in the technology category of the USPTO’s Patents for Humanity Award. Winning alongside of Microsoft was Sproxil, a company that provides a service that allows for the verification of goods by consumers to ensure that they are genuine.

That matters in a medical environment.

Microsoft won its nod from the Patent Office for its work with Infer.NET, a machine learning tool that simplifies tasks involving machine learning and large data sets. The company claims that it has been used to dig into child Asthma for example. The product is provided for free for non-commercial activities.

The USPTO cited Microsoft “for providing machine learning tools that allow health researchers to better analyze large data sets.” In short, Microsoft has collected government plaudits for its free software product that medical researchers can use to dig into data sets, and ferret out trends and patterns that could aid health efforts.

The award will irk some, frankly, given its resting on patents at all, a topic that has become prickly in the past few years; certainly, the recent intellectual property wars belie structural issues in our patent system, but in this case we are looking at good practices, and not predatory legal action.

A total of 10 companies were honored, including Procter & Gamble and DuPont.

Top Image Credit: Robert Scoble