updated 04:50 pm EST, Mon February 6, 2012
Barnes and Noble may win Microsoft case after all
ITC staff lawyer Jeff Hsu in a discussion Monday said he would recommend to Administrative Law Judge Theodore Essex that Barnes & Noble hadn't violated the three patents at the heart of a Microsoft lawsuit. The recommendation isn't binding, but could be a strong clue as to the ruling Judge Essex may make on April 27.
Microsoft has insisted that the point of view was coming before it had presented evidence and that it might still get the upper hand in the actual trial just now getting underway. The company has regularly insisted that there was no question every Android device ever made uses its patents, despite Barnes & Noble showing what it believed was prior art and arguing that Microsoft's patents didn't cover newer invented products.
Barnes & Noble has already lost an attempt to invoke antitrust claims against Microsoft for a strategy that made it impossible for Barnes & Noble to see what the actual violations were without signing a non-disclosure pact as well as terms that would have let Microsoft censor features to prevent the Nook from becoming too competitive.
Were Barnes & Noble to have Microsoft's ITC claims rejected, it could have ramifications not just for the Nook but for all Android devices. The patents it has been using apply to much of Android, and while it wouldn't represent a complete reversal, it could see Motorola and other companies contest their need to get a Microsoft license. Microsoft is understood to make hundreds of millions of dollars in Android licensing, or several times more than its own Windows Phone business makes. [via Bloomberg]