Earlier this year, Microsoft sued Barnes & Noble for patent infringement over its use of Android in the Nook Color. (I somehow missed this when it happened, so didn’t know about it when I posted this article more recently about Microsoft’s Android patent licensing deals.) But this week, an interesting new document emerged as evidence in the case: a 29-page slide deck from Barnes & Noble presenting the problems with Microsoft’s patent stance.
The site that presented the slides, GeekWire, is down right now (presumably due to the heavy bandwidth demand from all 29 of those pictures being downloaded by everybody who saw the article linked on Techmeme), but the Google Cache of all 29 slides is available. In the presentation, Barnes & Noble complains that Microsoft is demanding licensing fees commensurate with owning Android for the sake of just a few patents. The presentation was originally given in July to officials from the US Department of Justice Antitrust Division.
The Wall Street Journal reports that Barnes & Noble requested an anti-trust investigation of Microsoft on patent grounds. A letter from the company’s general counsel complains that MIcrosoft is attempting to kill off small players in the handheld device industry by license fees that only larger companies can afford. (It also noted that Microsoft’s desired license fees for the Nook Color were higher than B&N could afford.)
Meanwhile, Microsoft has extended licenses to a number of Android-using companies including Samsung, HTC, and Acer. A spokesman for the company pointed out that Microsoft had to take licenses for others’ patents used in Windows, and makes its own licenses available “on reasonable terms” for others.
This is not the only ongoing patent skirmish in the handheld device industry right now, of course. The epic battle between Samsung and Apple over the Galaxy Tab’s resemblance to the iPad threatens to make devices from one company or the other unavailable in parts of Europe or Australia. The Justice Department is looking into the matter of technology patent fights and purchases.
Memo to B&N: Still want to be a tech company? Should’ve talked to the cook before getting into the kitchen.
MS is doing nothing unusual, that is just how the game is played.
The only reason the terms look high is because B&N went in unarmed.
Last year, MS talked to Amazon and quietly settled. But, of course, since Amazon *has* patents they own, *they* had a two-way talk: “I’ll license yours, you license mine.”
Unfortunately, patent licenses only have to be non-discriminatory, not affordable.
Don’t expect political action to help: if B&N can’t afford good patent lawyers they probably can’t afford to buy politicians, either. Politicians are cheaper but you have to buy more of them to get anywhere.