US Patent No. 7,479,950, issued to Microsoft, applies to Surface tabletop computing technology, which provides instant access to digital information in a novel, useful and nonobvious way, the goal being to make interactions between the physical and virtual worlds more seamless.
Microsoft is famous for aggressive protection of its intellectual property; that they now have 10,000 patents (and counting) backs that position up. They spend about $8 billion per year on R&D and regularly haul out the guns in patent warfare; their current target is open-source software, which they claim violates at least 40 Microsoft patents.
This is why Microsoft stock does well. This is why they survive, despite the worldwide snarl that the name engenders. Microsoft is a prime example of a company that has leveraged nothing but intellectual property into a multi-billion-dollar enterprise.
And to think it all started with a college drop-out.