back to article Barnes & Noble complain to DoJ over Redmond nobbling

Barnes & Noble has reportedly complained to the US Department of Justice over Microsoft’s recent lawsuit alleging patent violations for using Android. The company used Android on its Nook e-book reader, launched earlier this week, and has decided to fight Microsoft’s legal claims rather than kowtowing to Redmond and paying …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    If there is a way... illegally get a market monopoly or violate antit-trust laws for profit, you can bet Microsucks will pursue it as they have done many times before. In America it pays to be a criminal.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "“All modern operating systems include many patented technologies," a Dominion Vorta told The Register."

    There, fixed it for ya.

  3. David Kelly 2

    What did Android invent?

    Google and Android are trying to get a free ride on the backs of other's inventions. Android isn't inventing anything, just recreating the successful ideas of others. Patents make it possible to do just that, but not for 20 years.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @What did Android invent?

      Have you seen the patents Microsoft are using to justify payments of up to $15 per Android device?

      I mean seriously, do you think it right that something so trivial as a "loading icon on a web page" is possible to be patented, and then for money to be extorted as a result? Crap like that wasn't even "invented" by Microsoft, considering their history with the web and how late they were to the browser party, though undoubtedly they were the first to try and patent it.

      The Microsoft patents are bullshit. All software patents are bullshit. It's time America outlawed software patents just as they are in most other countries (copyright and trademarks/designs yes, but software/algorithm patents no...)

      1. a_been

        The problem isn't software patents, which were legal in Western Europe a decade before the USA. The problem is the US PTO will give you a patent for wiping your arse with your left hand as long as the person checking the patent is right handed. It seem the US PTO updated Arnaud Amalric's advice for the computer era.

        "Grant them all and let the lawyers sort it out"

        1. hewbass

          Legal in Europe?

          I'm pretty sure that is not the case. In my recollection their has to be a physical process associated with the patent claim, with some caveats (paraphrased from memory badly): the combination of algorythm and physical process can only be patented if the claims do not solely rely in the algorythm. Naked algorythms themselves are simply considered to be mathmatical expressions, and these are explicitly non-patentable.

          You will often see SW Patents in Europe expressed as being required to execute on particular computing machinery (as a way of involving a physical process), but this can be challenged by stating that the algorythm can actually be executed by any generic general purpose computing machinery.


    2. Gorbachov

      oh please

      As if MS never 'stole' any technology. The only difference is that they have the face to claim moral superiority. If they truly are in the right they would sue Google, win and be done with it. This has nothing to do with technology and everything to do with lawyers.

      Somehow, somewhere, the lawyer brigade in MS and Apple has morphed from a defensive department into an offensive one. And if they have to kill the spirit of the patent system to earn a buck, so be it.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Other's inventions

      Read this:

      And then ask yourself ... did Microsoft invent most of that.. or was it already prior art (or so bleeding obvious that it should never have been patented).

    4. hewbass

      Have you even understood what a patent is?

      The motivation behind patents is to share knowledge so that it does not need to be kept secret and expensively reproduced many times (in the case of Patents, the motivation for sharing the knowledge, is provided by a state awarded monopoly to 'license' the rights to reproduce the patented thingumy that requires the said knowledge. It is expected that the patent holder will provide said knowledge to the licensee based on some mutuall beneficial arrangement).

      Implicit in this is the understanding that the cost of reproducing this knowledge is far greater than the cost of the patent*, i.e. licensing the patent should actually be a useful activity for the licensee so that it helps them achieve their end product for a reduced cost.

      What you actually find is, with the Patents that you refer to that are being applied to Android, that they mostly refer to trivial and obvious operations, and although there may be some interesting and novel ideas, they are generally very shallow ones -- and in either case the difficult bit is not having the idea that gets patented it in the first place, it's carrying out the user studies, the trials and testing, the design, and the actual implementation into code. Which the patent does not give you access to. So you end up paying for that bit anyway. The only difference with the patent is you get to pay someone for the privilege of being able to use that development work you have to pay for anyway. The alternative to taking out such a useless license is to be faced with the threat of court action resulting in some kind of penalty. This sort of activity fits into a general class more commonly referred to as extortion.

      So instead of patents being a net benefit to the populace (which is why they are implemented into law in the first place), they are merely a tollgate on the highway of innovation (to coin a particularly corny metaphore) -- often used to prop up a monopoly at the expense of the populace, who would otherwise be able to buy cheap and clever Android Phones.

      So to conclude: the patents are worthless to the licensees and used only to prevent competition and innovation from competitors.

      If you still think that such patents are a good idea, I have a pile of old rope that I feel would be very useful for your next technological venture, that I willing to sell to you for a very reasonable and large amount of money. If you are not willing to buy my old rope then I will see you in court with my expensive and clever lawyers(TM) about it because you need to buy my old rope in order to be allowed to make your shiny electric gizmotron (even though it features no pulleys, cords or other rope related phenomena, and you had not even considered that old rope would be a key component of said gizmotron, until the moment I realised I could make a load of money off your work without having to do any of my own other than having a set of expensive and clever lawyers (TM) available to do my bidding. BWAHAHAH).

      * unforunately there is a). no legal requirement that this should be so, and b). no meaningful way to implement one anyway...

  4. Cyfaill

    Android is an invention

    @ David Kelly Are you serious?

    Based on Linux Android is almost pure innovation...

    It is semi open because it represents a substantial amount of threat to the status of Microsoft mobile and those who have a stake in Android are trying to both protect what they have invested in. Much to the anger of the real open source world. That is an indication of just how important Android is becoming. Microsoft is the one who is sucking on the big tit of Android because they have no answer with their "competition by achievement"... Oh sorry they don't have an answer, except instilling fear via gangster tactics.

    That is why Microsoft has a whopping 7-17% of the market (depending on who you wish to believe). likely less.

    1. The BigYin


      ...the Android kernel may share some ideas with Linux, but the rest of it (i.e. the stuff you directly use) has nothing whatsoever to do with Linux. That credit goes to GNU (and quite a few others), the world would be nowhere without the GNU C Compiler.

      Sorry if this seems pedantic, and I have nothing against Linux or Torvalds, but credit where it is due please.

  5. P. Lee

    What did android invent?

    Android doesn't have to invent anything. It doesn't have to be new. You don't have to invent something new to make money off it. You're quite free to build a mousetrap using the standard design and dress it up in your own packaging. That's what Apple did with the hardware and software in the iphone and hence their obsession with patenting the way something looks.

    At last we find someone with no interest in licensing MS tech (selling WinMoPho or outlook sync) and finally we have someone willing to point out that the emperor has no clothes.

    Big thanks to Barnes and Noble!

  6. ratfox

    Good for Barnes&Nobles

    I hope we finally get to check how many of these patents stand up in court.

  7. Kevin Johnston

    This has possibilities

    If nothing else, it is a good chance for the full list of patents to be aired which then will let everyone see who has a good hand and who is bluffing.

    I do so wish that somebody would get a big brass pair and go through the USPO turning it back into the organisation it was meant to be (and shredding lots of the garbage while they were at it).

    1. Tom 13

      Re: big brass pair

      While I concur with your sentiment, the problem is that by my calculations it requires at least 268 someones (possibly at least 285 depending on whether certain arcane rules apply) to grow big brass pairs, and they seem to already be feeding at the lobbyist trough.

  8. Tom 7 Silver badge

    Microsoft dont care

    they know their patents will fall in court but you can guarantee that the contracts they have with the android manufacturers will not.

    hose poor bastards (and us as well) will be paying $20+ over the odds for $100 devices for years to come

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It is plain parasitic to live off BS IP like M$ does.

    Good on B & M for not rolling over.

    The Microsoft corporation is in the stagnation phase of its 'lifecycle' so can't compete with younger competition; it tries to smother them or become a parasite on them; all of their obsolete BS IP needs to be voided before they can do any more damage!

    Microsoft had several opportunities to reinvent it self, but failed to take take full advantage of them and even deliberately rejected some due to tired old management and a stagnant corporate culture; so it deserves to slowly die.

    I wonder which will be the next dominant OS, so that I can plan to migrate; certainly not 'Gilded Cage' OS-X, maybe Solaris, if Oracle could become more consumer focused, provide much better hardware support, and cut their support costs. I don't include GNU/Linux, because it is too fragmented, and still has legacy and hardware support issues.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Given their past performance....

    ... Microsoft's patents will crash in court.

  11. Friendly Neighborhood Yank


    Let's see if I have this straight: Google starts the open handset alliance, and cooperatively develops a new OS based on the Linux kernel, and middleware libraries and APIs they custom wrote in C. They released this for free (Apache License), and maintain it with the Android Open Source Project.

    Then Microsoft comes along and claims this new product infringes on their vague patents, and threaten legal action if the users of this (free) software don't pay them License fees? Wow - I guess since no one wants windows for handsets, they need to patent troll to monetize someone elses innovation.

  12. Paul RND*1000

    I presume Samsung and HTC bent over and took it because they happen to also make products using Microsoft's mobile OS and they were either quietly threatened with loss of their license to use that OS, or are concerned that Microsoft might pull the plug on them. Which is stupid. That tactic might have worked with PC makers when Windows was the only game in town, but everyone needs to remember that in the mobile space, Microsoft needs them a hell of a lot more than they need Microsoft.

    I'm hoping that BN, not having any likely interest in licensing from Microsoft and possibly banking on their Nook being a success, will be suitably motivated to take this all the way to dragging these patent claims into court where they can be exposed for what they surely are: trivial nonsense.

  13. KjetilS

    Go B&N!

    I'm having a friend pick up a Nook for me this week (I'm not based in the US, so I can't order one), both because I want to support the company, and I've wanted an e-book reader for some while now :)

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