Microsoft's week saw a spike in its legal battle with Barnes & Noble, a focus on Windows Phone data and consumer adoption, and an earnings report.
Microsoft's week was big on the
corporate side of things: an earnings report, a few statements about a
particular policy and the prospect of a drawn-out legal battle with ... a book
As improbable as it may have seemed
even five years ago, Microsoft is locking legal horns with Barnes & Noble,
which fired off a counterclaim April 25 to Redmond's lawsuit over intellectual
property. At issue is Barnes & Noble's e-reader, the Nook Color, which runs
According to the bookseller, Microsoft
is using its patent portfolio to squeeze royalties from manufacturers who
install Android on their mobile devices, with its lawyers allegedly demanding
large royalties for patent licenses related to the Nook.
"Microsoft is misusing these patents as
part of a scheme to try to eliminate or marginalize the competition to its own
Windows Phone 7 mobile device operating system posed by the open source Android
operating system and other open source operating systems," reads the counterclaim
, filed with the U.S. District Court for
the Western District of Washington at Seattle. "Microsoft's conduct directly
harms both competition for and consumers of eReaders, smartphones, tablet
computers and other mobile electronic devices, and renders Microsoft's patents
In its original action, filed March 21,
Microsoft had insisted the Nook violates its intellectual property.
"The Android platform infringes a
number of Microsoft's patents, and companies manufacturing and shipping Android
devices must respect our intellectual property rights," Horacio Gutierrez,
Microsoft's corporate vice president and deputy general counsel for
intellectual property and licensing, wrote in a March 21 statement. "To
facilitate that, we have established an industry-wide patent licensing program
for device manufacturers."
Microsoft and Motorola are currently
locked in tit-for-tat intellectual-property lawsuits, with the former claiming
the manufacturer violated nine patents with its Android smartphones. In April
2010, HTC announced it had agreed to pay Microsoft royalties in exchange for
the use of "patented technology" in its Android-powered smartphones.
Barnes & Noble also raised the
prospect of anti-competitive behavior on Microsoft's part, a potentially sore
point for a company that spent years locked in a monopoly dispute with the U.S.
Department of Justice.
"Microsoft's activities have a
significant, wide felt, and highly detrimental anticompetitive effect and restrain
competition in the market for mobile operating systems," the counterclaim reads
at one point, "by suppressing the use and development of open source mobile
operating systems, including the Android operating system, and the development
of applications and devices employing the same."