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Barnes & Noble claims Microsoft Nokia patent pact is illegal

Says Microsoft is trying to suppress Android
Wed Apr 27 2011, 14:43

BOOKSELLER Barnes & Noble has filed an explosive rebuttal to Microsoft's lawsuit alleging patent infringement in its Nook e-reader by claiming that Microsoft has illegally entered an anti-competitive, abusive agreement with Nokia to combine patent portfolios.

Microsoft filed a lawsuit with the US International Trade Commission and the US District Court for the Western District of Washington alleging that Barnes & Noble, Foxconn and Inventec had infringed its patents by using Google's Android operating system on the Nook e-reader. Now Barnes & Noble has responded by claiming that Microsoft has no right to claim ownership over something it had no hand in developing, among other allegations.

In court documents filed by Barnes & Noble, the firm said, "Microsoft did not invent, research, develop, or make available to the public mobile devices employing the Android Operating System and other open source operating systems, but nevertheless seeks to dominate something it did not invent." Barnes & Noble basically said that Microsoft is claiming rights over something that isn't its property.

If you thought that Barnes & Noble would end it there, you're in for treat. It followed up by claiming that Microsoft is trying to make Android "unusable and unattractive". Barnes & Noble said, "On information and belief, Microsoft intends to take and has taken definite steps towards making competing operating systems such as the Android Operating System unusable and unattractive to both consumers and device manufacturers through exorbitant license fees and absurd licensing restrictions that bear no relation to the scope and subject matter of its own patents."

That's a very strong claim by Barnes & Noble and something that Microsoft will have to defend vigorously, if it can. Later on Barnes and Noble claimed that Microsoft and Nokia had agreed on "a strategy for coordinated offensive use of their patents".

Barnes & Noble claimed that such a strategy 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". Flat out accusing another company of undertaking illegal, anti-competitive activities pretty much ends any hope for a diplomatic resolution between the firms. It also brings Nokia into the mix, and opens the possibility that the Finnish phone maker might become involved in a separate lawsuit.

Microsoft's litigation against Barnes & Noble is ultimately seen as a lawsuit attacking Google's Android operating system. Microsoft had previously said that by paying a licensing fee for its Windows Phone 7 operating system, device manufacturers and operators would avoid any risk of such lawsuits.

Given the accusations Barnes & Noble has leveled at Microsoft, one can only wonder how many fireworks remain to be seen when this case goes to trial and whether Nokia will be dragged into the mire of protracted litigation. µ


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