News

Judge: Microsoft May Use Its Patents To Destroy Android

A court's "initial determination" on patent misuse that went against Barnes & Noble in its legal dispute with Microsoft is now partly available for public inspection.

The document from a U.S. International Trade Commission court described a judge's reasoning in finding that Microsoft did not misuse its intellectual property when it sued Barnes & Noble. Microsoft claims that the use of the Android mobile operating system in Barnes & Noble's Nook electronic reader devices violates its patents.

This initial determination document is now public and can be read in a redacted form. The still-censored document was unearthed and reported by Todd Bishop in an article published today at GeekWire.

Administrative Law Judge Theodore R. Essex essentially argued that the U.S. patent system allows the holder to charge whatever the market can bear. He added that court precedents allow Microsoft as a patent holder to engage in "hard bargaining," and that isn't considered by the courts to be patent abuse.

"Microsoft's tactics are certainly hard bargaining, but they do not rise to patent misuse because there is absolutely nothing about such tactics that expand the scope of any patent," Judged Essex wrote (p. 11).

The expand-the-scope part of the argument is tough to follow, but the judge essentially is saying that just because Microsoft may have it out for Android, and just because it is using its patents to increase the costs for any company, like Barnes & Noble, that uses Android, that doesn't mean Microsoft is abusing its monopoly granted by a particular patent according to the legal doctrine of patent misuse.

"Even assuming that these transactions and the related evidence establishes that Microsoft is bent on eliminating Android as a competitor, the mere fact that Microsoft is targeting Android for destruction is insufficient to establish an antitrust violation let alone patent misuse," Judge Essex wrote (p. 10).

The judge does cite various legal precedents for his initial determination, but the reasoning only leaves open the question as to whether it is possible for patent abuse to actually exist in the U.S. legal system. The judge cited the precedents for patent abuse as having a "narrow scope," saying it was limited to instances where "the patentee seemed to be trying to extend his patent grant beyond its statutory limits."

Microsoft has narrowed its dispute with Barns & Noble to just three patents and the hearings are continuing. An ITC staff attorney, acting on behalf of the public interest, recommended that Barnes & Noble not be found liable for violating Microsoft's patents, but his advice and even the advice of the administrative law judge in this case, could be ignored by the ITC's commissioners, who will eventual render a decision in the case.

A download (PDF) of the partially blacked-out "initial determination" document can be found at the GeekWire post. It's initial, and not final, so the determination can change.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.

Featured

  • Microsoft Dynamics 365: Why It May Not Be What You Think

    For starters, the cloud-based CRM/ERP software has some surprising integrations with PowerApps, Microsoft's low-code developer environment.

  • Microsoft 365 Insider Test Program Emerges for Organizations

    Microsoft has started a new Microsoft 365 Insider Program for organizations to test its software, but the program's name and scope could be changing.

  • IT Pros: Don't Forget To Protect Your Personal Security

    Don't be the IT pro who spends way too many hours each day keeping their users secure only to neglect their own home networks. Brien describes the two steps he took to avoid this trap.

  • Microsoft Edge Browser Shifting to Open Source Chromium Platform

    Microsoft plans to align its Microsoft Edge browser production efforts with the open source Chromium Web platform for the desktop version of the browser, the company announced on Thursday.

comments powered by Disqus
Most   Popular

Office 365 Watch

Sign up for our newsletter.

Terms and Privacy Policy consent

I agree to this site's Privacy Policy.