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Microsoft sues Barnes & Noble, Foxconn to silence Android

updated 04:20 pm EDT, Mon March 21, 2011

Microsoft Android suit vs Nook, Foxconn, Inventec

Microsoft hoped to further stifle competition from Android on Monday with a lawsuit targeting non-traditional sources. Following its belief that every Android device maker owes royalties, it sued Barnes & Noble and its manufacturers Foxconn and Inventec for allegedly infringing on patent rights through its Android-based Nook e-readers. It had unsuccessfully tried to negotiate a deal for more than a year and had "no choice" but to "defend our innovations and fulfill our responsibility," Deputy General Counsel Horacio Gutierrez claimed.

The suit was accompanied by an International Trade Commission request that, if successful, would lead to the Nook being banned from import into the US. ITC complaints are often used as bargaining tactics to pressure the target company into a settlement, since they tend to be decided more quickly.

Barnes & Noble hadn't responded so far but was expected to challenge the lawsuit.

Suing Barnes & Noble further escalates a pattern of shakedowns that are known to be a proxy fight against Google, which it sees as rivaling not only Windows Phone but mobile ad revenue from Bing. Microsoft has already sued Motorola and threatened Asian manufacturers. It notably avoids suing any company that agrees to make Windows Phone 7 devices and made a deal with HTC and hasn't shown any signs of threatening Dell, LG, or Samsung, although they may have struck deals in private.

Contract manufacturers are a new strategy and would show Microsoft hoping to cut off supply at the source by encouraging Foxconn and Inventec to distance themselves from Android.

Microsoft hasn't attacked Google directly so far, partly due to the size of the company it would face but also the OS licensing system. Android is free to license and thus doesn't give any immediate material gain to Google other than eventual ad revenue and brand recognition. Hardware manufacturers are its only remaining targets at that stage and so far haven't received any formal sheltering from Google.

Until Motorola goes to trial, Microsoft won't have had the patents' validity tested in earnest in court.

by MacNN Staff



  1. kimgh

    Joined: Dec 1969


    If you can't compete...

    ...sue the competition.

    Stay classy, Microsoft!

  1. msuper69

    Joined: Dec 1969


    '...had "no choice" but to "defend our innovations


  1. LenE

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Microsoft actually has grounds here

    I can't believe that I am defending Microsoft on this, but Android started out targeting Microsoft reference platform for a hardware spec. This made it easy for Android and Google after Android Inc. was acquired, to quickly field hardware with the new OS, while hamstringing the platform's memory management with some early versions of the OS. Manufacturers like HTC were already manufacturing Windows Mobile phones, and the first Android devices were just these same phones with Android on, instead of Windows Mobile.

    Unfortunately, this bit of information has been scrubbed from the Android Wikipedia page and is never acknowledged by the open and free parrots, but Microsoft IP was the genesis for Android hardware. Google attempted to clothe itself with "open" and "free" when it formed the Open Handset Alliance, to make Android devices. The IP donated to this effort cannot erase that which they appropriated from Microsoft's reference platform.

    Microsoft is going after companies who hadn't licensed their reference design, but bought into the crock that the Open Handset Alliance is.

    -- Len

  1. JuanGuapo

    Joined: Dec 1969


    If they're right....

    ....what then?

  1. wrenchy

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Sounds like

    Microsoft is getting desperate... The details of the lawsuit are pretty sketchy at best.

    A lot of the points appear pretty trivial like:

    - "Give people easy ways to navigate through information provided by their device apps via a separate control window with tabs"

    Huh? You mean like Opera did with tabs long before Microsoft?
    I don't know about some of these. Seems like FUD to me.

    -- Sent from my Android Device.

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