Microsoft has cut one of the patents over which it is suing Barnes & Noble and trimmed back asserted claims on the four others at the heart of the case.
Microsoft sued Barnes & Noble, Foxconn and Inventec (the companies manufacturing the Nook) in March 2011, claiming the Android-based Nook infringed on a handful of Microsoft’s patents. Barnes & Noble countersued. The U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) began investigating the case last year. B&N also has asked the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate Microsoft’s patent-licensing tactics.
Microsoft is characterizing its January 9 move as being designed to streamline the hearing in the matter, which is slated to occur next month.
"From a case management perspective, (Microsoft's withdrawal) helps both parties and the ITC: they get to focus on a smaller number of patent claims," noted Florian Mueller, an IP analyst and founder of the FOSS Patents blog (who is working on a Microsoft-funded study of FRAND patents, as he has disclosed previously).
The patent which Microsoft cut from the handful of those over which it is suing Barnes & Noble cover the "loading status in a hypermedia browser having a limited available display area," as Mueller explained in a blog post this week.
Microsoft officials declined to comment on this week's action and referred me to the stipulation filed by the company. That document states that Microsoft does not consider its reduction of claims as "an admission as to the merits of any claim."
In other Microsoft legal news, it came to light this week that Microsoft has filed a suit against Motorola Mobility in the High Court of London. The actual filing of the case occurred in December 2011. Microsoft is declining to comment on the matter. Microsoft and Motorola Mobility, which is in the process of being acquired by Google, are engaged in a legal patent war before the U.S. ITC.