We should've known this was coming when Microsoft went after Motorola for Moto's supposedly patent-infringing Android devices, and now Ballmer & Co. have their sights set on Barnes & Noble, Foxconn, and Inventec for making and selling the Nook Color. Once again, Microsoft has filed in both the ITC and the Western District of Washington Federal Court claiming that the Android OS infringes its patents, though the patents at issue have dwindled in number from nine to five this time around. Allegedly, the Nook Color is riddled with infringing bits from its tab-using web browser and web-document viewing capability to its text selection and book annotation features. Microsoft has resorted to litigation as a new means to get paid for its patents after year-long licensing negotiations with B&N bore little fruit (unlike those with HTC, who got with the licensing program). So count this as another clear message to manufacturers -- Android's open-source, but it ain't free.
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Microsoft Takes Legal Action Against Barnes & Noble, Foxconn and Inventec for Patent Infringement by Android Devices


Statement from Horacio Gutierrez, corporate vice president and deputy general counsel of Intellectual Property and Licensing

REDMOND, Wash., March 21, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Microsoft Corp. today filed legal actions in the International Trade Commission and the U.S. District Court of the Western District of Washington against Barnes & Noble, Inc. and its device manufacturers, Foxconn International Holdings Ltd. and Inventec Corporation, for patent infringement by their Android-based e-reader and tablet devices that are marketed under the Barnes & Noble brand.

"The Android platform infringes a number of Microsoft's patents, and companies manufacturing and shipping Android devices must respect our intellectual property rights. To facilitate that we have established an industry-wide patent licensing program for Android device manufacturers," said Horacio Gutierrez, Corporate Vice President and Deputy General Counsel for Intellectual Property & Licensing. "Other vendors, including HTC, a market leader in Android smartphones, have taken a license under this program, and we have tried for over a year to reach licensing agreements with Barnes & Noble, Foxconn and Inventec. Their refusals to take licenses leave us no choice but to bring legal action to defend our innovations and fulfill our responsibility to our customers, partners, and shareholders to safeguard the billions of dollars we invest each year to bring great software products and services to market," he added.

The patents at issue cover a range of functionality embodied in Android devices that are essential to the user experience, including: natural ways of interacting with devices by tabbing through various screens to find the information they need; surfing the Web more quickly, and interacting with documents and e-books.
SOURCE Microsoft Corp.

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Same song, second verse: Microsoft sues Barnes & Noble for Android's patent infringement