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Barnes & Noble complains to DOJ about Microsoft patent shakedowns

Written by Rich Fiscus @ 11 Nov 2011 9:44 User comments (1)

Barnes & Noble complains to DOJ about Microsoft patent shakedowns As the popularity of Android has grown, so has the threat of patent infringement lawsuits against device makers.
Although Apple's lawsuits have gotten the lion's share of attention, Microsoft's threats of patent suits are arguably making just as big an impact on Android vendors.

Barnes & Noble, maker of the Android powered Nook Color and Nook Tablet, think that warrants antitrust action by the US Justice Department.

They are not alone in their criticism of Microsoft either. In a recent interview, Google's chief patent attorney characterized Microsoft's patent suit threats, which have resulted in licensing deals with major manufacturers like Samsung and Acer, as a reaction to their own failure in the market.

Barnes & Noble is going further. They are asking the DOJ to investigate Microsoft for using patents to keep new players out of the market.

Barnes & Noble sent a letter to a key Justice Department official last month alleging (via Bloomberg):

Microsoft is embarking on a campaign of asserting trivial and outmoded patents against manufacturers of Android devices. Microsoft is attempting to raise its rivals? costs in order to drive out competition and to deter innovation in mobile devices.

The letter points to recent patent purchases made by Microsoft in partnership with other companies, including Apple and Nokia, who are already established players in the handset and mobile device markets.

Other sources indicate Barnes & Noble says Microsoft refuses to even disclose what patents they are supposedly in violation of. A letter to another DOJ official states (via CNet):

When Barnes & Noble asked Microsoft for more detailed information related to these patents, Microsoft refused, claiming that the information was confidential and could not be shared, unless Barnes & Noble first executed a non­disclosure agreement.

This is hardly surprising. In the past Microsoft has made a number of vague claims about supposed patent infringement in Linux where they have similarly failed to detail any specifics.

Microsoft's response to these allegations has been a similar non-answer in which they simply state, "All modern operating systems include many patented technologies."

In reality, it's likely Barnes & Noble is wrong about Microsoft's motivations. It is actually more likely they are hedging their bets against Windows Phone failing.

If they can collect the same royalties from Android handsets they would get from Windows Phone units, as long as one or the other succeeds they win. If both succeed, their payoff is even greater.

More importantly, Android licensing costs them nothing. Other companies do all the work for them.

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1 user comment

112.11.2011 10:29

This company sues this company and that company sues the other as competition gets tighter, but what I don't like about this situation, is when these companies act like a 3 year old toddler, hogging a toy that's theirs, and not wanting to share while throwing a tempter tantrum. For heaven's sakes, grow up guys! You know, Amazon has a good business strategy: if you don't want to buy our product that's fine, but we'll offer you a lot more than what others will, it's your choice. IMO, they have the true "adult mentality" business-wise, why can't these companies share and share alike? I know that you have to be unique these days, but it wouldn't hurt if they shared their technologies. Hell, they all would probably make more money in the long run. Just my 2 cents guys.

This message has been edited since its posting. Latest edit was made on 12 Nov 2011 @ 10:33

Chance prepares the favored mind. Look up once in a while and you might learn something. - BLUEBOY

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