Microsoft's patent dispute with Barnes and Noble is likely far from over, but the spat saw some movement today, when a judge at the International Trade Commission rejected the bookseller's patent misuse claim. In his ruling, ITC Judge Theodore Essex threw out B&N's argument that Microsoft is misusing its patents against Android, effectively nullifying the company's major defense against Redmond. Microsoft, as you'll recall, is targeting the retailer and its Nook e-reader for allegedly infringing upon a (declining) number of its Android-related patents. Essex's decision is still subject to review from a six-member panel, but Microsoft is already heralding his decision as an early victory. "Today's action by the ITC makes clear that Barnes & Noble's patent misuse defense was meritless," Microsoft Deputy General Counsel David Howard said in a statement. "This case is only about one thing -- patent infringement by Barnes & Noble's Android-based devices." Barnes and Noble, meanwhile, said it has no comment. A full trial on the case is scheduled to begin on February 6th.