Microsoft throws book at Barnes & Noble over the Nook

22 Mar 2011

Software giant Microsoft is suing US book store chain Barnes & Noble over allegedly infringing a number of patents filed by Microsoft and using user interface elements from Windows CE in its Nook e-reader.

Microsoft is suing Barnes & Noble and the manufacturers of the Android-powered Nook devices, including Foxconn and Inventec, for infringing patents filed between 1998 and 2005 that relate to browsing and downloading information.

The software giant’s problem is that unlike companies that have licensed the respective patents – these include HTC and Amazon – Barnes & Noble and its manufacturing partners failed to do so.

There are at least five patents concerned involving window controls (scrolling), document and image downloading, loading status and methods for capturing and rendering annotations.

Microsoft takes on Android device manufacturers

“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 licence under this program. We have tried for over a year to reach licensing agreements with Barnes & Noble, Foxconn and Inventec. Their refusals to take licences leave us no choice but to bring legal action to defend our innovations and fulfil 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.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years