I remember when
I remember when, back in the dim and distant past, there was a company called DEC.
And when distributing DEC OS and apps on CD (all OSes, all apps) rather than ordering a tape per OS or app became fashionable, DEC needed something to allow folks (end users, software houses, etc) to manage their licences (generating licences if you're a software house, entering them if you're an end user).
It was called the Licence Management Facility, or LMF, and use of products was authorised with things called Product Authorisation Keys which at the time seemed long and tedious but actually are only marginally longer than a typically MS product key these days, considering the flexibility they provided.
LMF licences could be permanent, or they could belimited lifetime. They could be node-locked or not. They could be dependent on the size of CPU (cheap licence on low power CPU). Etc. Basically, everything you could want was there.
And then later there was FlexLM.
It's hard to imagine what MS could be patenting that wasn't previously done (and likely done better) in LMF or FlexLM.