The news from Between the Lines that Microsoft has sued Barnes & Noble over its Android e-reader is significant. The folks at Redmond, who have previously gone after Android phone makers, are making it clear they are coming after the Android tablet space which is heating up.
Last year Microsoft sued Motorola for using the Android system on its smartphones, claiming it infringes on a number of Microsoft patents covering interface design and other features. The Motorola suit was part of an effort to approach major Android phone makers to pursue licensing terms for the technology covered by the patents.
Motorola aside, that effort paid off for Microsoft as HTC, probably the largest Android smartphone maker, agreed to license the technology to forestall any further action on the part of Microsoft. While the license agreement didn't necessarily indicate HTC's agreement that the Microsoft patents held weight, it certainly indicated that licensing the technology might be the best financial course to take.
The suit announced today against Barnes & Noble is significant in that the company only makes e-readers based on Android. The Nook and NookColor readers are basically Android tablets that are aimed at reading ebooks. They are relatively cheap compared to some of the Android tablets in the market, and according to B&N they have been selling well.
It is not coincidental that Barnes & Noble is an easy target for Microsoft. The company has been struggling in its competition with Amazon's book-selling business, including the growing ebook space. It is likely that Barnes & Noble was too easy a target for Microsoft to pass up with this suit that is no doubt the first of several. Android tablets are just getting ready to hit the market in impressive numbers from companies such as Samsung, Motorola, LG and others. The Barnes & Noble suit is only the first shot of many to be fired from Redmond across the bows of Android tablet makers.
Image credit: Microsoft