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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 lightfoot on 4/28/2011 12:09:46 PM , Rating: 5
quote:
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
quote:
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
quote:
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
quote:
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!.


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