Microsoft sues Barnes & Noble, Foxconn and Inventec over Android patent infringement

Microsoft sues Barnes & Noble, Foxconn and Inventec over Android patent infringement

Summary: Microsoft has taken legal action against Barnes & Noble, Foxconn and Inventec over five patent infringements involving Android.

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TOPICS: Microsoft
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Microsoft has taken legal action against Barnes & Noble, Foxconn and Inventec over five patent infringements involving Android.

This from the Microsoft press release:

"The Android platform infringes a number of Microsoft's patents, and companies manufacturing and shipping Android devices must respect our intellectual property rights. To facilitate that we have established an industry-wide patent licensing program for Android device manufacturers," said Horacio Gutierrez, Corporate Vice President and Deputy General Counsel for Intellectual Property & Licensing. "HTC, a market leader in Android smartphones, has taken a license under this program. We have tried for over a year to reach licensing agreements with Barnes & Noble, Foxconn and Inventec. Their refusals to take licenses leave us no choice but to bring legal action to defend our innovations and fulfill our responsibility to our customers, partners, and shareholders to safeguard the billions of dollars we invest each year to bring great software products and services to market," he added.

Microsoft also has a blog post about the legal action which sheds more light on the subject:

As you may have seen, Microsoft today filed legal actions against Barnes & Noble, Inc., Foxconn International Holdings Ltd., and Inventec Corporation in both the U.S. International Trade Commission and the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington. Today's actions focus on the patent infringement by the Nook e-reader and the Nook Color tablet, both of which run the Android operating system.

Together with the patents already asserted in the course of our litigation against Motorola, today's actions bring to 25 the total number of Microsoft patents in litigation for infringement by Android smartphones, tablets and other devices. Microsoft is not a company that pursues litigation lightly. In fact, this is only our seventh proactive patent infringement suit in our 36-year history. But we simply cannot ignore infringement of this scope and scale.

In that blog post Microsoft is also keen to point out that it's not trigger-happy when it comes o lawsuits, pointing out that this is the company's seventh proactive patent infringement suit in its 36-year history.

How does this affect Amazon's Kindle? It doesn't, because Amazon has already signed a patent license with Microsoft covering this device. 

Going after manufacturers is an interesting move. For example, by suing Foxconn, Microsoft is having an effect on other companies that use Foxconn to manufacture their Android devices - companies such as Acer, Asus, Dell, Samsung and SonyEricsson. I think that overall this might be more important, and certainly have more of a long-reaching effect, than the lawsuit against Barnes & Noble.

Intellectual property activist Florian Mueller has taken a look at the court documents and found the five patents in question:

  • US Patent No. 5,778,372 on "remote retrieval and display management of electronic document with incorporated images"
  • US Patent No. 6,339,780 on "Loading status in a hypermedia browser having a limited available display area" (this is the one that was previously also asserted against Motorola)
  • US Patent No. 5,889,522 on "system provided child window controls"
  • US Patent No. 6,891,551 on "selection handles in editing electronic documents"
  • US Patent No. 6,957,233 on "Method and apparatus for capturing and rendering annotations for non-modifiable electronic content"

 Bring out the popcorn. This could get interesting!

Topic: Microsoft

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21 comments
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  • Nah it will be popcorn time when...

    Popcorn time is when IBM sues Microsoft for infringing their patent troll patent.

    http://yro.slashdot.org/story/07/10/20/1031236/IBM-Seeking-Patent-Protection-Racket-Patent
    guihombre
    • RE: Microsoft sues Barnes & Noble, Foxconn and Inventec over Android patent infringement

      @guihombre
      LOL. A patent on extortion!? Where's RICO when you need it?
      Bill4
  • RE: Microsoft sues Barnes & Noble, Foxconn and Inventec over Android patent infringement

    <i>Microsoft is not a company that pursues litigation lightly. In fact, this is only our seventh proactive patent infringement suit in our 36-year history.</i>

    Does that number include the proxy lawsuits? For example: the Microsoft funded SCO lawsuit against Linux?
    If they are only counting the ones that are direct, I could believe that, but ignoring the proxy lawsuits is a bit dishonest.
    Rick_K
    • That is a very good point....

      @Rick_K

      Pagan jim
      James Quinn
      • No it's not. It doesn't materially change the argument at all.

        Even if MS had funded SCO's lawsuit, which they didn't, the numbers would still be very small and still only represent defensive action after more than reasonable efforts to settle by very fair license terms had failed. This unfortunately happens occasionally when you deal with people who think it's okay to just take other peoples IP. It's a last resort but in the end MS has a legal fiduciary responsibility to it's shareholders to protect their investment.
        Johnny Vegas
      • RE: Microsoft sues Barnes & Noble, Foxconn and Inventec over Android patent infringement

        @Johnny Vegas
        You just might want to check your facts. Microsoft did in fact bankroll SCO?s lawsuit. Unless you don?t consider Microsoft recommendation to the bank. Financing the lawsuit was Microsoft?s attempt to spread FUD around Linux. Remember the only one that stood to gain anything was Microsoft.
        Rick_K
    • RE: Microsoft sues Barnes & Noble, Foxconn and Inventec over Android patent infringement

      @Rick_K The SCO lawsuit was regarding copyright infringement not patents. At any rate the number of these proxy lawsuits would be small. Apple, OTOH, has filed lawsuit many times to protect its IP.
      DevGuy_z
      • RE: Microsoft sues Barnes & Noble, Foxconn and Inventec over Android patent infringement

        @DevGuy_z <br><i> Apple, OTOH, has filed lawsuit many times to protect its IP.</i><br>That is the price of a first mover.When youre a company known for disruptive change, many will copy. If I am not mistaken Apple had the first commercially successful implementation of the GUI, mouse, USB, FireWire, etc. So naturally the others will copy them
        Rick_K
      • RE: Microsoft sues Barnes & Noble, Foxconn and Inventec over Android patent infringement

        @Rick_K you would be mistaken... at first release USB and Firewire were competing technologies with firewire ending up faster and USB more flexible...

        They stole the GUI and the mouse so were people really copying them?
        slickjim
      • RE: Microsoft sues Barnes & Noble, Foxconn and Inventec over Android patent infringement

        @Peter Perry
        1) Apple licensed the mouse and GUI from Xerox in exchange for pre-IPO stock shares in Apple. Like it or not, they didn't steal the idea, they paid for it "in kind" with stock options. In 1989 when Xerox tried to sue Apple over the GUI concept the lawsuit was thrown out altogether. Basically Xerox didn't have enough of a case for the Court to even hear the matter.

        2)Many of the features of the GUI which make it practical were in fact wholly Apple-developed. Example: PARC had no "drag and drop" functionality in their GUI. Imagine GUI based computing as a success without drag and drop.

        3) The previous poster very clearly stated "<i>first commercially successful</i> implementation of the GUI". Tell me please who, before Apple, was successfully marketing a GUI based operating system?

        4)USB was, at the outset, primarily developed for keyboards, mice, scanners, printers and other I/O devices. Although data transfer was implemented, it was not USBs primary function in the beginning. Firewire was always intended primarily for data storage and transfer. USB 2.0 came along and changed the landscape but to say that they were competing technologies from the beginning is erroneous as each had its own distinct purpose at that point. External USB hard drives did not exist in quantity until USB 2.0 came around. Also, and again, the iMac was the first commercially successful implementation of USB technology. At the time Apple was repeatedly criticized for both ditching the floppy and using "some new non-standard port" for keyboards and mice which made the ADB keyboards and mice of the time unusable on newer Macs. Of course the same was said when Apple went from phone cord to ADB.

        Just thought you might like to know the actual facts.
        use_what_works_4_U
    • RE: Microsoft sues Barnes & Noble, Foxconn and Inventec over Android patent infringement

      @Rick_K Why would they fund that? Seriously, them stomped the hell out of Linux in most markets with the exception of Android and Web Servers.
      slickjim
  • Can't expect them to let android devices steal their IP forever

    All the android device makers are way past due on what they owe Microsoft and they've been aware of it for many months. This is the 800lb gorilla reason that google has refused to indemnify anyone using android. By the time they get done paying Microsoft and Oracle and everyone else who's IP has been illegally taken and used in android they'll realize their bottom line is alot smaller than it used to be. The CTO's who already look bad for chosing the insecure and unreliable android os just because it was free are now going be looking doubly stupid...
    Johnny Vegas
    • Then why not &quot;Man up&quot; and go after

      @Johnny Vegas
      Google? Seems this is the long way around to fight less well funded, smaller targets who might find it more sensible business wise to simply pay MS some sort of extortion? Any way Apple fan here and if MS and Android OEM's want to hassle one another and by proxy this means Google as well hey go for it... Can't see a downside for my fav company in this one!!!

      Pagan jim
      James Quinn
      • RE: Microsoft sues Barnes & Noble, Foxconn and Inventec over Android patent infringement

        @James Quinn <br>I would like to see this blow up in Microsofts face. It would serve them right, how about competing on merit, rather than via lawsuits?
        Rick_K
      • RE: Microsoft sues Barnes & Noble, Foxconn and Inventec over Android patent infringement

        @Rick_K
        If it let Google go, then they would be ready to take over Apple too. They are known thiefs, by just sitting in Apple's board they got all the cool ideas. I hope you would be happy then. :-)
        Ram U
      • RE: Microsoft sues Barnes & Noble, Foxconn and Inventec over Android patent infringement

        @James Quinn Microsoft unlie Apple usually knows where the real threats are and the fact that they are hitting Android should tell you something of who they believe to be the bigger long term threat.
        slickjim
      • RE: Microsoft sues Barnes & Noble, Foxconn and Inventec over Android patent infringement

        @Rama.NET you guys are so full of shit...

        Honeycomb is more influenced by WebOS than iOS and the truth is Andy Rubin started Android prior to Google buying the little company...

        What is funny is watching a shill like Rick_k defend litigation happy Apple and then Bash MS for it.
        slickjim
        • Um, talk about full of it

          First Android Inc's OS was a blackberry clone with APIs from trackball input, and NO touch APIs, and a physical keyboard and NO onscreen keyboard option. Eric Schmidt had seen iPad/iPhone dev for quite a while BEFORE buying Android Inc., as a member of the board. The main reason he bought Android was because of the promise he saw in the iPad/iPhone PRIOR to its release.
          As for your B.S. about XEROX, as a person who actually used the Alto (the system in question) let me assure you, you have NO idea what you are talking about).
          .DeusExMachina.
  • RE: There's more than one way for Microsoft to compete with Android

    Those guys have no choice but to pay for those patents as they would have sued Microsoft if it had to use their patents. Otherwise, they have to come up with new innovations if they are really capable of doing so.
    Ebonde
  • RE: Microsoft sues Barnes & Noble, Foxconn and Inventec over Android patent

    This brings to mind a quote I once heard from (former Van Halen frontman) David Lee Roth: When asked how you know when you've "made it," Roth responded: "When you can spell 'subpoena' without thinking about it." The abundance of copyright and patent litigation volleyed against Android is testimony to its success. Time will tell whether or not it will be able to survive the onslaught.
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/post-tech/post/qanda-small-inventors-raise-patent-reform-concerns/2011/03/28/AFLJ9NpB_blog.html
    Gena777