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Barnes & Noble Wants Microsoft's Patents Probed

By - Source: Bloomberg | B 33 comments

Barnes & Noble wants U.S. regulators to investigate Microsoft and its portfolio of patents, fearing a monopoly.

Facing a February trial stemming around Microsoft's Android patent claims, Barnes & Noble alleges that Microsoft is attempting to raise its rivals' costs by using "trivial and outmoded patents" in order to drive out competition and to deter innovation in mobile devices. The book retailer is now asking U.S. regulators to investigate whether Microsoft is trying to monopolize the mobile sector by demanding Android-related patent royalties.

"Microsoft is embarking on a campaign of asserting trivial and outmoded patents against manufacturers of Android devices," Barnes & Noble said in an Oct. 17 letter to Gene Kimmelman, the Justice Department’s chief counsel for competition policy.

The upcoming trial slated for February 2012 is based on accusations presented by Microsoft that claim Barnes & Noble infringes on five patents. Microsoft previously filed a complaint with the U.S. International Trade Commission, seeking to block imports of the NOOK readers. Microsoft insists that the underlying NOOK OS -- naturally Google's Android -- uses its patented inventions. Microsoft has already landed licensing deals with HTC and Samsung.

"All modern operating systems include many patented technologies," Microsoft said in a statement. "Microsoft has taken licenses to patents for Windows and we make our patents available on reasonable terms for other operating systems, like Android. We would be pleased to extend a license to Barnes & Noble."

Barnes & Noble said that part of Microsoft's tactics to to raise rivals’ costs included the participation in a group of companies to buy Novell patents. Microsoft has also reportedly participated in a three-way licensing agreement with Nokia and Mosaid Technologies. These two specific actions are supposedly intended to "prevent Android- based devices from taking away sales of Microsoft’s Windows operating system."

Although actual figures were not provided, Barnes & Noble said that Microsoft is demanding the same amount in patent fees that the Redmond company charges users of its Windows Phone platform.

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  • 8 Hide
    AbdullahG , November 10, 2011 2:11 AM
    Ugh! More patent news? I didn't want to do this but....

    "Yo dawg, I heard you like patents, so we put a patent in yo patent so you can patent while you patent!"
  • 4 Hide
    ickarumba1 , November 10, 2011 2:32 AM
    Although what Microsoft is doing is downright anticompetitive, I'm afraid it is a common practice for large companies to try and cripple competitors (they don't want to outright crush them, because the government might intervene).
  • 6 Hide
    enkichild , November 10, 2011 2:39 AM
    Those few cent royalties add up when you're paying 100 different ones for a single device.
  • 5 Hide
    ltdementhial , November 10, 2011 3:14 AM
    ickarumba1Although what Apple is doing is downright anticompetitive, I'm afraid it is a common practice for large companies to try and cripple competitors (they don't want to outright crush them, because the government might intervene).


    there i fix it.

    now on topic:

    Barnes and nobles got a point about microsoft may monopolizing patents and so. but they're wrong in the point of Microsoft's "embarking on a campaign of asserting trivial and outmoded patents against manufacturers of Android devices" as they don't want android or google ruined but only again protect their tech and developments from things like being suit for how a boton looks like.

    i don't really understand the patent system you guys got on US. but i don't see microsoft playing blind-suit like apple.
  • -5 Hide
    alikum , November 10, 2011 3:18 AM
    Again, another company expecting free lunch. They think they can just come up with devices, preload it with an OS they happen to find FREE and sell it for profit? When you take an open source and make it commercial, it's no longer open source and therefore, patent holders have the right to sue, or in this case, license. To Barnes & Noble, wait til Apple comes after you and you'd be wishing you had entered a licensing deal with Microsoft.
  • -3 Hide
    eddieroolz , November 10, 2011 3:37 AM
    I think this has been probed already in 1997 case against Apple, and most recently by EU investigating Microsoft. If companies dislike patents so much, they should be going after IBM instead of Microsoft...IBM holds a huge number of patents too.

    In other words, I just think there's the usual Microsoft-bashing going on.
  • 4 Hide
    Thunderfox , November 10, 2011 3:47 AM
    Interesting that a non-tech company is the one who decides to take on MS. Is it because they don't understand the situation and don't know what they are getting themselves into, or is it because, as outsiders to the tech industry, they don't have to worry about repercussions from this action aside from the actual outcome of the case?

    In any case, as screwed up as the patent system is, any further reviewing of such important patents as these is probably a good thing. At least maybe it is another chance to thin out any particularly bad ones.
  • -3 Hide
    hiruu , November 10, 2011 4:01 AM
    This is a joke of a case...B&N is not a technology company, but they deal in IP as a core business, so you would think that they would udnerstand the importance of patents within R&D. Microsoft spends as much money as any other company in the field on R&D, and there reward is to have people pay to use their patents, I'd love to see somebody create a reader say mook, and be a total knockoff the nook, and try to sell THAT!
  • 7 Hide
    alidan , November 10, 2011 4:03 AM
    ThunderfoxInteresting that a non-tech company is the one who decides to take on MS. Is it because they don't understand the situation and don't know what they are getting themselves into, or is it because, as outsiders to the tech industry, they don't have to worry about repercussions from this action aside from the actual outcome of the case? In any case, as screwed up as the patent system is, any further reviewing of such important patents as these is probably a good thing. At least maybe it is another chance to thin out any particularly bad ones.


    Barnes & Noble still lives in a world where common sense means something. now, im not saying that microsoft only has patents, like move finger to unlock, but dont they hold a patent that basically states "send email on wireless device"

    microsoft may hold valid patents, but some of those patents are now, so retardedly obvious, and possibly the only way of doing something, that thy should no longer be.
  • 5 Hide
    Anonymous , November 10, 2011 5:11 AM
    Quote:

    I think this has been probed already in 1997 case against Apple, and most recently by EU investigating Microsoft. If companies dislike patents so much, they should be going after IBM instead of Microsoft...IBM holds a huge number of patents too.

    In other words, I just think there's the usual Microsoft-bashing going on.

    how many times do you see IBM making news because of its patent trolling? IBM is a giant just watching the little children squabble in the dirt.
  • 4 Hide
    JOSHSKORN , November 10, 2011 5:17 AM
    I think we need to look at Apple, too.
  • -1 Hide
    The_Trutherizer , November 10, 2011 6:41 AM
    Google promises Android OS is free. And I believe they will keep that promise. So if M$ wins I think Google will actually provide Android at a loss (not considering income from advertising, etc..)

    What I want to know is... If android is infringing on these patents then another free OS such as Linux surely must be as well. Linux has everything. I guess M$ does not see Linux as a threat.
  • 1 Hide
    ojas , November 10, 2011 7:21 AM
    What about Apple? Don't they keep trolling? Why not set up an enquiry to see how a rectangle qualifies as a patent?

    patentssuckhow many times do you see IBM making news because of its patent trolling? IBM is a giant just watching the little children squabble in the dirt.

    Agreed, IBM is too busy getting stuff done to worry about patents. Or maybe they already get royalties :p 
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , November 10, 2011 9:55 AM
    ojas: What does Apple or IBM have to do with this? Somebody else can sue them later, we're talking about Microsoft.

    Back on topic: Good for them, there's nothing wrong with doing a little review of Microsoft's patents, hopefully they'll all be invalidated for being trivial and stupid. Kudos to B&N for growing a pair, unlike some of their tablet and smartphone competitors.
  • 1 Hide
    iceman1992 , November 10, 2011 10:05 AM
    eddieroolzI think this has been probed already in 1997 case against Apple, and most recently by EU investigating Microsoft. If companies dislike patents so much, they should be going after IBM instead of Microsoft...IBM holds a huge number of patents too.In other words, I just think there's the usual Microsoft-bashing going on.

    But IBM doesn't abuse those patents. Microsoft and Apple does
  • -5 Hide
    marthisdil , November 10, 2011 11:37 AM
    sajoojas: What does Apple or IBM have to do with this? Somebody else can sue them later, we're talking about Microsoft.Back on topic: Good for them, there's nothing wrong with doing a little review of Microsoft's patents, hopefully they'll all be invalidated for being trivial and stupid. Kudos to B&N for growing a pair, unlike some of their tablet and smartphone competitors.
    I hope MS wins, gets a huge judgment against B&N and B&N finally closes it's doors. No one with any common sense buys books from B&N anymore.
  • -1 Hide
    marthisdil , November 10, 2011 11:39 AM
    iceman1992But IBM doesn't abuse those patents. Microsoft and Apple does
    How is Microsoft "abusing" something it has? While I generally don't agree with how software/business patents really are, it is what it is.

    Remember that if you ever come up with a patent and go and sue someone big in the Eastern District of Texas because you feel they infringed on it. I'm sure YOU won't feel that YOU are abusing YOUR patent. But hey, as long as you can bash....
  • -3 Hide
    marthisdil , November 10, 2011 11:39 AM
    ickarumba1Although what Microsoft is doing is downright anticompetitive, I'm afraid it is a common practice for large companies to try and cripple competitors (they don't want to outright crush them, because the government might intervene).

    No more "anticompetitive" than any other company that has a product that uses the patent (i.e. not a true patent troll).
  • -1 Hide
    ojas , November 10, 2011 12:36 PM
    sajoojas: What does Apple or IBM have to do with this?

    lol u used "sajo"....
  • 0 Hide
    back_by_demand , November 10, 2011 12:40 PM
    B&N really need to be careful here, if it goes to an investigation and it is indisputable proved that Android has Microsoft elements then it will go very bad for Google very quickly.

    Google have been happy to let hardware vendors do licensing deals so far but this could open a gateway for a direct action against them and maybe even an injunction.

    If B&N lose, Google will not be happy, let's hope it is all just sabre rattling and it goes away.
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