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Nokia CEO and former Microsoft Executive Stephen Elop.  (Source: ibtimes.com)
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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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.


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