There's more than one way for Microsoft to compete with Android

Summary:Microsoft, on March 21, sued Barnes and Noble, Foxconn and Inventec -- all of which are involved in selling Android-based e-readers -- for alleged patent infringement.

Microsoft, on March 21, sued Barnes and Noble, Foxconn and Inventec -- all of which are involved in selling Android-based e-readers -- for alleged patent infringement.

Microsoft is claiming that it has patents on everything from the user interface to tabbing through screens, document interaction and Web surfing, as ZDNet's Larry Dignan noted. Microsoft filed suits in both the International Trade Commission and the U.S. District Court of the Western District of Washington.

This isn't the first time Microsoft has gone on the offensive against Android via the legal route.

Microsoft sued Motorola on October 1 over alleged infringement of Motorola’s Android smartphones on Microsoft’s patents. On November 9, Microsoft sued Motorola again over wireless and video coding patents that are used by the Xbox and smartphones. In the latter case, Microsoft claimed that Motorola is charging excessive royalties for its patents. Motorola has countersued Microsoft, for those keeping score at home.

HTC paid an undisclosed amount to Microsoft in 2010 to head off potential Android-based patent problems. HTC agreed to pay Microsoft an undisclosed sum to license Microsoft patented technology for use in phones running the Android operating system, Microsoft announced on April 27, 2010.

Novell/Monos' Miguel de Icaca tweeted about Microsoft's latest legal Android-fighting tactics.

Yes, I'd say that's exactly what Microsoft is attempting to establish, in order to slow Android's growth and become a key toll taker on the Android superhighway.

A year ago, I wondered aloud whether the Microsoft-HTC deal was just one more example of Linux companies proactively attempting to head off potential Microsoft lawsuits by paying up. Microsoft has made no bones about the fact that it believes Android is on the wrong side of its IP rights....

.Net and Java expert Ted Neward of Neward & Associates made plain his feelings about Microsoft's latest attempt to derail Android using IP lawsuits:

Do you agree with Neward?

Update: Florian Mueller, of Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) patents blogging fame, noted that one of the five patents cited in Microsoft's suits today is common to both the Barnes & Noble and Motorola patent actions.

Topics: Microsoft, Legal, Mobility


Mary Jo Foley has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications, including ZDNet, eWeek and Baseline. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008). She also is the cohost of the "Windows Weekly" podcast on the TWiT network. Got a tip? Se... Full Bio

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