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Barnes & Noble 'Throws the Nook' at Microsoft

Barnes & Noble rolled out its legal defense brief on Monday, rebutting all of Microsoft's patent infringement claims.

Microsoft has alleged five violations of its patents by B&N's Nook electronic book reader and Nook Color Tablet devices, as described in a lawsuit filed last month. The lawsuit also names B&N's device partners, including Foxconn International Holdings and Inventec Corp.

Barnes & Noble wants the charges dismissed in a jury trial, with the court costs to be paid by Microsoft. The B&N defense brief (PDF, accessible courtesy of Groklaw) is unsparing of Microsoft's allegations. The brief accuses Microsoft of abusing the U.S. patent system and legal system to attack Android, the open source mobile operating system that competes with Microsoft's Windows Mobile and Windows Phone OSes.

The Android OS, largely fostered by Google, is used in B&N's Nook devices, as well as in various smartphones and other mobile devices produced by hardware manufacturers. Android recently hit the No. 1 position for smartphone use in the U.S. market.

The B&N defense brief describes Microsoft's patents in the case as "five insubstantial and trivial features." It suggests the patents may be on shaky legal ground.

"The subject matter embraced by the '372, '780, '522, '551, and '233 patents was not new and would have been highly obvious at the time those patents were filed," the B&N brief states.

Microsoft's royalty demands are "exorbitant" for Nook, according to the B&N brief. For the Nook Color Tablet, the royalty charges are double what Microsoft charges for Windows Phone 7, it adds. The brief bluntly describes Microsoft's aims in the lawsuit, which is to thwart Android in the marketplace, according to Barnes & Noble's attorneys.

"Indeed, Microsoft is misusing these patents as part of a scheme to try to eliminate or marginalize the competition to its own Windows Phone 7 mobile device operating system posed by the open source Android™ operating system and other open source operating systems," the B&N brief states.

The B&N brief claims that Microsoft and Nokia, which announced a Windows Phone collaboration deal in February, plan to use their combined patents in an anticompetitive way against companies using the Android OS.

"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."

In the case of one of the patents ('233), the B&N brief claims Microsoft withheld prior art from consideration, rendering the patent invalid. Ironically, Microsoft recently testified before the U.S. Supreme Court that the standard of proof needed to disprove a patent is too high in cases when the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office lacked prior art evidence. That case involves Microsoft's dispute with Canadian company i4i.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is online news editor for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.

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Reader Comments:

Thu, Apr 28, 2011 VG United States

The Do Only Evil in this case is Google. These guys are scoundrels. If you look at some of the evidence Oracle disclosed supporting its copyright infringement suit against Google, it will spin your head. Straight copy and paste from Java over to Android. There is a reason Google doesn't charge for Android. They know the thievery they have done and they think they can get away with it as long as they don't charge. All they care about is getting their search engine in the hands of as many people as possible and so they create this poor man's copy of iOS in the shortest and fastest way possible and are handing out this illegal morass to other parties who are then head over heels in this mess.

Thu, Apr 28, 2011

Blow off Microsoft..Why don't you do something with those patents instead of waiting around for someone else to develop and release a successful product, then after that you go after them? Good business? Probably, morally corrupted? Most definitely. Keep on this track though and set the example for the rest of the US Corps out there and the US economy will be just that a coprse. Thanks greedy aholes who don't really provide any innovation anymore, just invention of how to make money for nothing. Hope every greedy ahole money grubbing, corporate steeling, bastage die in a fire.

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