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Nokia CEO and former Microsoft Executive Stephen Elop.  (Source:
B&N: Microsoft is attempting to dominate Android with "exorbitant license fees and absurd licensing restrictions"

Can't beat 'em with innovation? Then we'll do it with litigation! -- That's the tone Microsoft continues to take with Google, and, more specifically, its popular Android mobile OS. 

The latest lawsuit coming to light is one Microsoft has levied against Barnes & Noble, alleging patent infringement for B&N's use of Android on its Nook e-reader.

B&N refused to sign a non-disclosure agreement, according to Groklaw, so it’s free to air its grievances against the lawsuit -- and boy has it. 

In its response to Microsoft's complaint, B&N says that Microsoft is trying to dominate Android with "exorbitant license fees and absurd licensing restrictions," that is more than Microsoft charges for the entirety of Windows Phone 7. B&N points to the strategic partnership with Nokia as evidence of the scheme.

B&N also calls the patents Microsoft alleged it infringes "trivial, not infringed and invalid."

Here are some longer excerpts from Barnes & Noble's response:

...Microsoft has asserted patents that extend only to arbitrary, outmoded, or non-essential design features, but uses these patents to demand that every manufacturer of an Android-based mobile device take a license from Microsoft and pay exorbitant licensing fees or face protracted and expensive patent infringement litigation. The asserted patents do not have a lawful scope sufficient to control the AndroidTM Operating System as Microsoft is attempting to do, and Microsoft’s misuse of these patents directly harms both competition for and consumers of all eReaders, smartphones, tablet computers and other mobile electronic devices....

And on Nokia's involvement in the alleged scheme:

On information and belief, as part of Microsoft’s recently announced agreement with Nokia to replace Nokia’s Symbian operating system with Microsoft’s own mobile device operating system, Microsoft and Nokia discussed and apparently agreed upon a strategy for coordinated offensive use of their patents. Indeed, in videotaped remarks made two days after the Microsoft-Nokia agreement was announced, Nokia’s CEO Stephen Elop confirmed that Microsoft and Nokia had discussed how their combined intellectual property portfolio is “remarkably strong” and that Microsoft and Nokia intended to use this combined portfolio both defensively and offensively. This type of horizontal agreement between holders of significant patent portfolios is per se illegal under the antitrust laws, threatens competition for mobile device operating systems and is further evidence of Microsoft’s efforts to dominate and control Android and other open source operating systems.

Microsoft replied to the allegations with its own statement to Geekwire: "Our lawsuits against Barnes & Noble, Foxconn and Inventec are founded upon their actions, and the issue is their infringement of our intellectual property rights. In seeking to protect our intellectual property, we are doing what any other company in our situation would do."

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Business as usual
By Ilfirin on 4/28/2011 11:08:03 AM , Rating: 0
I fail to see the uproar here - this is what's happening across the board with Android right now.

The simple fact is that Android does have a lot of features in it that are actually patented by Apple & Microsoft. All the hardware manufacturers that pay the licensing fees are not being sued. The ones that chose to skip all that are being sued and, according to current business & patent law, they *should* be sued.

Windows Phone 7 isn't all that expensive of an OS for device manufacturers (it's just not 100% "free" like Android is, but then, neither is Android because you still have to license all those patents if you want to use Android legally), patent licenses are often very expensive. It's no surprise at all that its greater than the cost of WP7.

RE: Business as usual
By Gzus666 on 4/28/2011 11:18:24 AM , Rating: 2
Really? You don't see the uproar over someone scheming with another company to team up and patent troll every company they can rather than innovate? This is bad for consumers.

Face it, WP7 isn't going anywhere and neither is Nokia, so they are trying to just sue them out of the game instead of enhance their product offering. If no one made things that infringed software patents, no software would be made, period. It is pretty much impossible to make software without infringing on a patent, which clearly makes the patents too broad and easily reproduced, therefore there should be no patent in the first place.

RE: Business as usual
By Ilfirin on 4/28/2011 11:23:22 AM , Rating: 2
All business is a 'scheme' of some sort.

My point is that virtually every company making mobile devices today is involved in a lawsuit right now because most all of them have patents of some kind that the others are infringing upon.

What happens is someone initiates the lawsuit, the other party counter sues for all the patents that the first company is infringing upon the 2nd and after 2 years they end up becoming partners and cross-license the patents.

The reason B&N is resorting to trying to damage public image is that they don't really have any patents of value to any of these other companies.

RE: Business as usual
By Gzus666 on 4/28/2011 11:52:29 AM , Rating: 1
So that is OK with you and they should never report it? You do understand reporting is important for there to be any change, right?

Clearly it is an issue, just because it is common, does not mean it is good or right. B&N is a book company, not a technology company, they made a product to read books. They took Android cause it was most customizable for what they were doing. Clearly this isn't right, the patents are silly and should be removed.

Microsoft and Nokia are mad at this point that they aren't relevant in a market space they thought they could just dominate. Instead of doing what good companies do and innovate, they are dragging everyone else down with them. At this point, I have no respect for either company as this hurts all consumers. Any company that trolls with their patents is just stifling innovation and I dare say MS is becoming as big of a troll as Apple at this point.

RE: Business as usual
By lightfoot on 4/28/2011 12:09:46 PM , Rating: 5
Clearly this isn't right, the patents are silly and should be removed.

You do understand that it is the responsibility of the courts to rule a patent invalid, and not the media right?

This case belongs in court.

If B&N is violating a patent that MS owns then they either need to licence it or stop using it. If the patent has no merit the patent should be invalidated and B&N should continue doing business.

This is how the US patent system works. Don't blame MS or Apple or even Google for defending their patents - they are required to do so.

RE: Business as usual
By Gzus666 on 4/28/2011 12:21:39 PM , Rating: 2
You do understand that it is the responsibility of the courts to rule a patent invalid, and not the media right?

Good thing all the judges understand so much about patents and technology in general. Oh wait, they are like 80 and have no understanding of it at all. Don't get me started on juries.

Patents are granted without even having a working prototype, that is insane. If people don't get behind patent reform in general, then it won't happen. Judges will merely rule on what seems right to them, not what the people want. Juries don't usually know any better, they are just random dopes they weed out cause they think they will rule in their favor. That is why media is needed otherwise it would just sweep under the rug and no one would know any better that it even happened.

Our products are going to cost more and wages for people working in tech will be lower because of this garbage, clearly there is reason for uproar.

Side note, they aren't "required" to defend their patents. This is an offensive attack to try to sink a competitor not even related to B&N, not defend their IP and that is more than obvious.

I am fine with patents, but the system needs obvious reform. Just cause you think of something doesn't mean it should be patentable.

RE: Business as usual
By lightfoot on 4/28/2011 12:29:03 PM , Rating: 2
Judges will merely rule on what seems right to them, not what the people want.

Funny, I thought that it was the Judges job to interpret the law and uphold it. Not to "do what the people want" - that is the job of the legislature, who make the laws.

A patent has no value if you can not defend it. And it is the responsibility of the patent holder to defend their own patents - nobody else will do it for them.

You clearly have a problem with the patent system as it is currently designed, and that is fine. But don't blame Microsoft for the faults of the system.

RE: Business as usual
By Gzus666 on 4/28/2011 12:41:24 PM , Rating: 2
That it is, but they clearly won't understand technology enough to make a decision and neither will most legislators. The only way it will change is with uproar from consumers in general.

Microsoft and Nokia are clearly abusing a broken system, I always blame people that abuse a broken system just as much as the people who allow the broken system to exist. If someone screws someone over legally, we don't pat them on the back and say have a good day, we blame them as well. They know what they are doing isn't right, but they do it anyway.

I honestly hope it comes back to bite them and everyone else that does this, then maybe they will realize they should innovate their product line instead of frivolous litigation.

RE: Business as usual
By gamerk2 on 4/28/2011 12:30:15 PM , Rating: 2
You do understand that it is the responsibility of the courts to rule a patent invalid, and not the media right?

True, but with so many pro-business judges on the bench, it almost never happens. Heck, just yesterday, the Supreme Court ruled [5-4, guess who voted where] that for those of you who signed contracts with phone companies, that little section that says all disputed will be handled via arbitration means you can't sue the phone companies. Essentially, the phone companies are now immune to consumer lawsuits.

So if the courts won't overturn idiotic contract clauses, why would you think they would overturn a patent?

RE: Business as usual
By fteoath64 on 4/29/2011 1:02:14 AM , Rating: 2
"If B&N is violating a patent that MS owns then they either need to licence it or stop using it".

The triviality of the patents themselves make this determination almost impossible. Hence, it would be up to the judge to determine infringement. Having said that, any reasonable judge with some software understanding would dismiss this outright, or defer this to Google the owners of Android OS. MS is acting like a bully here. They should sue Google outright if they dare!.

RE: Business as usual
By Ilfirin on 4/28/2011 12:14:11 PM , Rating: 2
Reporting on it is all well and good.

This line, however, is just poor taste and bad reporting, showing clear bias:
"Can't beat 'em with innovation? Then we'll do it with litigation! -- That's the tone Microsoft continues to take with Google, and, more specifically, its popular Android mobile OS. "

RE: Business as usual
By Gzus666 on 4/28/2011 12:25:51 PM , Rating: 2
It is clearly what is going on, so why shouldn't they say it? Do you really think they are innovating by taking a company that has been sunk by competition (Nokia), partnering with them and then using their budget and Nokia's IP to try to fight a new "common enemy" with litigation instead of fixing their products? Worst part is they are attacking a book company over it instead of going after the maker of the OS, cause they know they can't win that fight.

RE: Business as usual
By chripuck on 4/28/2011 1:53:07 PM , Rating: 2
Oh good lord. The reason they're going after B&N is because the other companies using Android HAVE ALREADY PAID THE LICENSING FEES. They're only going after them now because of the recent FroYo update to the Nook that turns it from an eReader into a full blown tablet.

Pull your head out of your ass and think for one minute.

And by the way, you can't patent something without some sort of prototype. I know because I have looked into patenting ideas of my own.

RE: Business as usual
By Gzus666 on 4/28/2011 2:31:21 PM , Rating: 2
They are going after B&N to whittle away on Android, don't be naive.

You are a fool then, you can absolutely patent something without a working prototype. Check out the millions of patents where they send in a pretty picture and nothing more, they are granted constantly.

RE: Business as usual
By Gzus666 on 4/28/2011 2:38:31 PM , Rating: 2

There is a lawyer saying you don't need a prototype, maybe you should pull your head out of your ass for a minute, douche. If you want more links, a simple Google search returned tons. Maybe you should also get a better patent lawyer.

RE: Business as usual
By superPC on 4/28/2011 11:24:14 AM , Rating: 5
perhaps a little bit of history lesson would make this clear. remember the wright brothers? they invented the airplane. What happened afterwards? They tried to sue everyone that tried to take to the skies with a wing, a stabilizer and an engine. As a result they spend more time in court than working on improving their machine and the US was behind Europe in aircraft capability soon after litigation begun to roll. just because you can sue them don’t mean you have to. in the end the company that wright brother build was bought by curtiss another aircraft manufacturer and become curtiss wright. that company doesn't even make airplanes anymore.

do you want that to happened with mobile OS?

RE: Business as usual
By Ilfirin on 4/28/2011 11:27:04 AM , Rating: 2
Right, there are an infinite number of reasons to be upset about the current state of patent laws, but when a dozen separate groups are all involved in a fire-fight with each other you're not going to say "You know, Guns are bad for people - they kill them. I'm switching to water pistols."

RE: Business as usual
By lightfoot on 4/28/2011 12:21:05 PM , Rating: 2
So basically what you are saying is that the Wright Brothers, who brought about a world changing innovation, had no right to seek royalties from their invention?

They weren't innovators and had no right to seek compensation from people who simply copied them?

That is what you are saying right?

RE: Business as usual
By nafhan on 4/28/2011 1:42:07 PM , Rating: 2
Benefiting from prior innovation is great... up to a point.

I'll explain: the intended purpose of patents and the patent system is to encourage innovation by making it easier for innovators to be rewarded for innovating. This happens by giving innovators exclusive control of an idea or process. However, this exclusivity obviously impedes innovation by others who could use the new processes to further innovate.

The government's role in this should be to balance the rewards for previous innovators with the possibility of new innovations by others in such a way that the country as a whole benefits from innovation as much as possible. Further, the government should not be granting exclusive rights to groups that really haven't done anything innovative. Of course, all this is a very, very complicated thing to do!

At this point, I think the gov. is leaning towards protecting prior innovators over promoting new innovation, and this goes for IP as a whole - not just the patent system. Among other things, this is hurting us in international trade since not all countries are quite so strict in protecting IP. It's also likely that this is happening because there's a lot of money to be made by controlling IP, and those with a lot of money have power...

RE: Business as usual
By rudy on 4/28/2011 5:47:24 PM , Rating: 1
No it does not they can pay the royalties and use any prior innovation and if the new product really is innovative and useful they should have no problem making enough money to pay those royalties.

I am not taking sides but alot of people seem to think that if someone does not charge for something they should be exempt from IP laws and that is horse shit because you get cases like google where their primary business is search and their entire move into the mobile sector has nothing to do with wanting to produce an OS but rather just to control the search market. It is fine for google to do this so long as they or the end product makers are paying royalties and abiding by the laws. At the point they feel they should be exempt it is a big problem.

Also in negotiation it is common place of people to attempt to charge high royalty fees especially when a party is not cooperating.

A similar story is how about I just make cover songs and give nothing to the orginal artist then I give the songs away for free to generate traffic on my web site and make money off of ads. Its not right to screw over the original artist.

Protecting prior innovation is not a problem patents are limited in time and scope and they expire over time so that you do not get a massive build up of patents that hinders innovation.

RE: Business as usual
By superPC on 4/29/2011 9:24:20 AM , Rating: 2
nope you misunderstood me. what i said is that licensing should be made easier and more transparent and not exorbitantly expensive and pursuit litigation first like what the Wright Brother did. that only hinders technological advancement (as evident in this case).

essentially: don't be greedy. if you give them some good incentive to license your invention than they would gladly do it. just look at game engine. hell they sometimes give those away for free if you use it non commercially. but pay them and they'll keep you in the loop, update that engine, etc.

"I'm an Internet expert too. It's all right to wire the industrial zone only, but there are many problems if other regions of the North are wired." -- North Korean Supreme Commander Kim Jong-il

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