March 21, 2011 | by Andrew Kameka
Microsoft has filed suit against Barnes & Noble and two Android equipment manufacturers over alleged violations of its patents in Android products. The alleged patent violations are numerous, but Microsoft specifically cited “tabbing through various screens to find the information [users] need; surfing the web more quickly, and interacting with documents and e-books,” as proof that the Nook, and presumably Nook Color, violate Microsoft-held patents.
You may immediately read that description and be confused as to exactly what that means. How does Microsoft plan to argue that such features are truly protected innovations that it has exclusive rights to? One could easily argue that description paints a picture in which Microsoft essentially owns the rights to any touchscreen platform or e-reader.
For it’s part, Microsoft does believe that all Android products fit that description because elements essential to Google Android are in violation of its intellectual property. You may recall that Microsoft eventually settled with HTC over patent issues and filed a similar suit against Motorola. It has since reached to several Android device makers to reach licensing deals that avoid lawsuits.
“[Barnes & Noble's] refusals to take licenses leave us no choice but to bring legal action to defend our innovations,” Microsoft lawyer Horacio Gutierrez said in a statement.
The Nook and Nook Color, both Barnes & Noble ereaders powered by Android, are the latest in what’s shaping up to be a long line of products under the threat of Microsoft litigation. However, there’s currently no reason to believe that this will threaten the sale of either product in the near future. LG, Motorola, Samsung, and a host of other companies continue to release Android products despite Microsoft’s threats, likely because they have their own patent libraries and large legal funds to protect their interests.
Barnes & Noble is no stranger to litigation as it recently settled a lawsuit with Spring Design concerning the original Nook. We may see a similar situation play-out here or Barnes & Noble could fight Microsoft in court.