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Wednesday, 16 November 2011 11:04

Barnes and Noble books Microsoft's patent trollage

Written by Nick Farell

barnesandnoble logo

Killing innovation

Book seller Barnes and Noble has hit out at Microsoft's bullying Android antics. While some manufacturers are paying up to give prevent Microsoft suing them over Android licences, Barnes and Noble has refused and now some of its reasons for doing so are appearing online.

Court documents found by Groklaw show that Barnes and Noble is rebelling against an "oppressive" licensing agreement which Vole is forcing down the throats of Android customers. It seems that Vole is leaning on Android licensees using the same anti-trust tactics that got it into trouble with the US Justice Department.

Barnes and Noble claim that the Volish license agreements go far beyond just paying to use some "trivial' patents. Microsoft appears to be trying to control future Android development. Groklaw has been showing exhibits and letters that Barnes & Nobles legal team has submitted to the courts and the Patent Office. What it is starting to look like is that Apple, Oracle, RIM and Microsoft formed an unholy alliance and bid almost 5 billion dollars to buy the Novell patents. Those patents were not originally filed regarding Mobile use but are being asserted against mobile OS functionality.

Meanwhile, Nokia and Microsoft's partnership on mobile phones appears to be more than just getting Vole into the mobile market. The two control a huge library of patents that can be brought to bear to shut down Android and control the mobile OS space. It looks like the plan is if that if Microsoft can't encourage anyone over to Windows Mobile they are going to make a killing by taxing Android.

Barnes and Noble thinks that Microsoft is forcing Android makers have to buy a Windows Mobile phone license for each Android set they sell. Sometimes Vole is making more from allowing an Android licence than it does from flogging a Windows one, Nokia points out. What is worse is that the Volish patents being used are "trivial" and "insignificant" in terms of Android's use. Barnes and Noble claim Microsoft is using these patents for minor functionality which all adds up. The court evidence appears to show that Vole makes license holders sign an "oppressive" agreement which gives Microsoft say over future hardware and software configurations and innovations.

If Android starts to advance too far, too fast, then Microsoft can effectively order manufactures to keep the status quo. Barnes and Noble is also asking the Department of Justice to look into Microsoft's Android actions as a prelude to another Anti-Trust action.

More here.

Nick Farell

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-2 #1 Jermelescu 2011-11-16 13:46
These punks think they're hard
+3 #2 DaRAGE 2011-11-16 15:03
I agree someone has to take Microsofts Bullying tactics out of the smartphone market. It's pretty much Mafia Racketeering
0 #3 fed44 2011-11-16 15:38
Why do people look at the companies and not the legal system. I would be guessing most companies do take advantage over the patent system and almost even have to if they want to survive. If it is allowed it will happen.
+1 #4 Exodite 2011-11-16 16:13
Quoting fed44:
Why do people look at the companies and not the legal system.

Probably because 'everyone else does it' isn't, and have never been, an acceptable excuse for immoral behavior.
0 #5 dew111 2011-11-16 23:43
To be fair, Microsoft and the others asked if Google wanted in on the joint bid.

As for Android being a significant revenue source, it is estimated that the current patent deals will net Microsoft much less than $1 billion (think less than half). Meanwhile, Windows 7 has sold over 400 million licenses...generating tens of billions of dollars in revenue and record profits. XBox and Office are still making (a lot of) money.

From what I hear about Microsoft's internal policies (at least with engineers), they are very careful about preventing anti-trust litigation and investigations. Either the legal team is on a different tack, or there is more to this Android patent licensing scheme.

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