Microsoft Using Patents to Squash Android Competition: Barnes and NobleBy CIOinsight | Posted 04-27-2011
Microsoft is using its patent portfolio to squeeze royalties from manufacturers who install Android on their mobile devices, according to a new legal filing from Barnes & Noble.
The bookseller's counterclaim to a Microsoft lawsuit, filed April 25 with the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington at Seattle, details a July 2010 meeting in which Microsoft's counsel allegedly demanded an "exorbitant royalty" for a patent license for Barnes & Noble's Nook Color, with "an even higher per device royalty for any device that acted 'more like a computer' as opposed to an eReader."
The Nook Color relies on the same Android operating system that currently powers a variety of smartphones and tablets. The filing describes Microsoft as repeatedly arguing that its patent portfolio would "entirely preclude the use of Android Operating System by the Nook," and mentions that both HTC and Amazon have entered into patent-licensing deals with Redmond.
"Microsoft is misusing these patents as part of a scheme to try to eliminate or marginalize the competition to its own Windows Phone 7 mobile device operating system posed by the open source Android operating system and other open source operating systems," it reads at one point. "Microsoft's conduct directly harms both competition for and consumers of eReaders, smartphones, tablet computers and other mobile electronic devices, and renders Microsoft's patents unenforceable."
Barnes & Noble also calls into question Microsoft's recent deal with Nokia to port Windows Phone 7 onto the latter's hardware.
"Microsoft and Nokia discussed and apparently agreed upon a strategy for coordinated use of their patents," the filing adds. "This type of horizontal agreement between holders of significant patent portfolios 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."
Just to get its point across, Barnes & Noble raises the anticompetitive specter elsewhere in the filing.
"Microsoft's activities have a significant, wide felt, and highly detrimental anticompetitive effect and restrain competition in the market for mobile operating systems," it mentions at one point, "by suppressing the use and development of open source mobile operating systems, including the Android operating system, and the development of applications and devices employing the same."
For more, read the eWEEK article: Microsoft Out for Android Blood: Barnes and Noble.