TechEye stirs up trouble for Microsoft in Barnes & Noble case

TechEye has managed to get itself mentioned in the latest round of the Barnes & Noble lawsuit.

It seems our story written back in February about Swingin’ Stephen Elop and MSFT / Nokia patent protection has made it into a legal document, in which Barnes & Noble is responding to Microsoft’s claims of patent infringement.

The 50 page lawsuit was drawn up after Microsoft went to war in late March over Barnes & Noble’s Nook e-reader with regards to its Android functionality.

Microsoft claimed that the Android-based tablets and e-readers breached a range of its patents. These related to interactive functions in the Google OS that the Microsoft IP and licensing team said were “essential to the user experience.”

That’s including the interaction of documents and ebooks, as well as the navigational method of tapping through various screens to find relevant information.

The patents in question are: 5,778,372, 6,339,780, 5,889,522, 6,891,551 and 6,957,233.

In its response, Barnes & Noble has said that the patents didn’t introduce anything and Microsoft was actually “misusing these patents as part of a scheme to try to eliminate or marginalise 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. ”

It continued, throwing down claims that Microsoft’s conduct actually directly harmed both competition for and consumers of eReaders, smartphones, tablet computers and other mobile electronic devices, and rendered Microsoft’s patents unenforceable.

And just to back it up a little bit further it cited an article by TechEye, citing “that Microsoft and Nokia intended to use their combined portfolio both defensively and offensively”. We didn’t say that, but whatever.

Barnes & Noble continued: “Barnes & Noble is without knowledge or information sufficient to form a belief as to the truth of the allegations of this paragraph and, therefore, denies them.”

When it came to the ’522 patent, the company claims that the patent “on its face, indicates an issue date of March 30, 1999,” but it “denied that the ’522 patent was properly issued.”

It also had a few comback words when it came to Microsoft’s Android claims, saying that Microsoft “did not invent, research, develop, or make available to the public mobile devices employing the Android  Operating System and other open source operating systems.” It pointed out that despite this, the company “seeked to dominate something it did not invent.”

“On information and belief, Microsoft intends to take and has taken definite steps towards making competing operating systems such as the Android Operating System unusable and unattractive to both Consumers and device manufacturers through exorbitant license fees and absurd licensing restrictions that bear no relation to the scope and subject matter of its own patents,” it added.

It continued to point the finger at Microsoft’s plans to dominate the world citing the Shy & Retiring Steve Ballmer as publicly stating that through its patents Microsoft “can dominate, control, and exclude” from the market the Android Operating System, other open source operating systems, and open source applications such as Google Chrome.

From these comments Barnes & Noble derived that Microsoft intended to use its patents to control the activities of designers as well as developers and manufacturers that use the Android OS.

“On information and belief, Microsoft has falsely and without justification asserted that its patents somehow provide it with the right to prohibit device manufacturers from employing new versions of the Android™ Operating System, or third party software,” the documents said.

Barnes & Noble eventually brought up the Nokia and Microsoft partnership, where the pair is accused to have agreed upon a strategy for coordinated offensive use of their patents.

That’s where TechEye‘s story cropped up. Barnes & Noble used our story about Elop at Mobile World Congress, where he admitted to us that the “partnership” was very much about patent protection. Barnes & Noble interpreted this as Microsoft and Nokia intended to use their combined portfolio both defensively and offensively.

“This type of horizontal agreement between holders of significant patent portfolios is per se illegal under the antitrust laws, threatens competition formobile device operating systems and is further evidence of Microsoft’s efforts to dominate and control Android and other open source operating systems”, the papers cited.