Microsoft alleges patent infringement by Nook eReader

Microsoft has filed suit against Barnes & Noble and its manufacturing partners

Microsoft has taken legal action against Barnes & Noble, and its Android manufacturing partners, with both the International Trade Commission and the US District Court of the Western District of Washington. The case against Barnes & Noble, Foxconn, and Inventec alleges that the Android-based Barnes & Noble Nook and Nook Color devices infringe on patents held by Microsoft.

A Microsoft on the Issues blog post by Horacio Gutierrez, Corporate Vice President and Deputy General Counsel, claims that this new litigation, combined with patents asserted in legal action taken against Motorola, makes 25 Microsoft patents allegedly encroached by Google's Android OS. Gutierrez stresses that Microsoft is not patent trolling--pointing out that this is only the seventh patent case initiated by Microsoft in its entire 36-year history.

Microsoft has established an industry-wide licensing program to address patent infringement by the Android OS. Other Android device manufacturers--such as HTC and Amazon--have come to an agreement with Microsoft to pay licensing fees for the Microsoft patents in question. Gutierrez says in the blog post, though, "Unfortunately, after more than a year of discussions, Barnes & Noble, Foxconn and Inventec have so far been unwilling to sign a license, and therefore, we have no other choice but to bring legal action to defend our innovations."

So, what exactly is Microsoft claiming Barnes & Noble and its partners are stealing from Microsoft patents in the Nook and Nook Color? Here is a summary of the patents in question sent to me by a Microsoft spokesperson:

Technologies that enable natural user interaction are key to the success of mobile devices.

• People also expect to be able to access command windows without interfering with the application's main window, and to be able to tab through various screens to find the information they need. Microsoft's patents enable the opening of a new, tabbed control window. (U.S. Patent No. 5,889,522)

Our technologies help speed up web surfing and keep users informed of download status.

• Surfing the web quickly is a key device feature. One of the patents in this case enables devices to show the content of a page even while the background is still rendering, allowing users to interact with the page more quickly. (U.S. Patent No. 5,778,372)

• Users also want to know the status of their downloads. A Microsoft patent provides information about download status on top of the content display. (U.S. Patent No. 6,339,780)

Our innovations facilitate users' ability to interact with document and other e-content.

• The ability to select text is critical to working with documents. One of our patents enables users to select text, see what is selected via highlighting, and expand the selection in either direction as desired. (U.S. Patent No. 6,891,551)

• Users also want to annotate e-books and other documents. A Microsoft patent allows people to insert and review annotations without changing the underlying document, and to select annotations and be brought to the related portion of the document. (U.S. Patent No. 6,957,233)

Obviously, Barnes & Noble. Foxconn, and Inventec disagree that Android, or the Nook and Nook Color devices, infringe on these Microsoft patents. Otherwise, they would have already negotiated terms for licensing the patents in question.

It is interesting that Microsoft never challenges Google directly for the alleged patent infringement by its Android OS, but instead goes after the vendors that rely on it. There may be some legal intricacy I am not aware of that makes this strategy more practical. At face value, though, it seems like Microsoft is going after Google by proxy by challenging peripheral companies that lack the financial and legal might of Google.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags MicrosoftMotorolatabletsGoogleAndroidPhonesconsumer electronicsnookBarnes & Noblelegal issuesBarnes and Noble

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Tony Bradley

PC World (US online)
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Bang and Olufsen Beosound Stage - Dolby Atmos Soundbar

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

ASUS ROG, ACRONYM partner for Special Edition Zephyrus G14

Learn more >

Sony WF-1000XM3 Wireless Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

Nakamichi Delta 100 3-Way Hi Fi Speaker System

Learn more >

Family Friendly

Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit for Nintendo Switch

Learn more >

Philips Sonicare Diamond Clean 9000 Toothbrush

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

SunnyBunny Snowflakes 20 LED Solar Powered Fairy String

Learn more >

Teac 7 inch Swivel Screen Portable DVD Player

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Tom Pope

Dynabook Portégé X30L-G

Ultimately this laptop has achieved everything I would hope for in a laptop for work, while fitting that into a form factor and weight that is remarkable.

Tom Sellers

MSI P65

This smart laptop was enjoyable to use and great to work on – creating content was super simple.

Lolita Wang

MSI GT76

It really doesn’t get more “gaming laptop” than this.

Jack Jeffries

MSI GS75

As the Maserati or BMW of laptops, it would fit perfectly in the hands of a professional needing firepower under the hood, sophistication and class on the surface, and gaming prowess (sports mode if you will) in between.

Taylor Carr

MSI PS63

The MSI PS63 is an amazing laptop and I would definitely consider buying one in the future.

Christopher Low

Brother RJ-4230B

This small mobile printer is exactly what I need for invoicing and other jobs such as sending fellow tradesman details or step-by-step instructions that I can easily print off from my phone or the Web.

Featured Content

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?