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
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 &
...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."