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Barnes & Noble Names Microsoft's Disputed Android Patents 386

Posted by timothy
from the cartels-invite-escape dept.
Julie188 writes "B&N is really blowing the lid off of what Microsoft is doing and how they are forcing money from Android. It has accused Microsoft of requiring overly restricted NDA agreements from those even entering into patent license talks. Because it is disputing Microsoft's claims, and the restrictions of its own NDA signed with Redmond, B&N has gone public. It has named in detail six patents that it says Microsoft is using to get Android device makers to pay up. Plus, B&N is also trying to force open Microsoft's other plans for stomping out Android, including the agreement Redmond made with Nokia, and Nokia's patent-troll MOSAID."
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Barnes & Noble Names Microsoft's Disputed Android Patents

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  • Well now (Score:5, Informative)

    by 93 Escort Wagon (326346) on Tuesday November 15, 2011 @02:46PM (#38062878)

    It's about damn time the patents came out.

    • Re:Well now (Score:5, Insightful)

      by lorenlal (164133) on Tuesday November 15, 2011 @02:53PM (#38062980)

      Keep pushing kids around, and eventually someone's going to push back.

      Fortunately, this is a pretty big kid. This should be fun.

    • Re:Well now (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Tsingi (870990) <graham.rickNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Tuesday November 15, 2011 @02:56PM (#38063006)

      It's about damn time the patents came out.

      Yes, and they are more trivial than I could have ever imagined.

      RTFA, it's worthwhile.

      • Re:Well now (Score:5, Insightful)

        by AdamJS (2466928) on Tuesday November 15, 2011 @03:03PM (#38063104)

        There's quite obviously an assload of prior art for them too.

      • Re:Well now (Score:5, Informative)

        by GameboyRMH (1153867) <gameboyrmh@@@gmail...com> on Tuesday November 15, 2011 @03:10PM (#38063220) Journal

        TL;DR-friendly list of patents:

        https://www.networkworld.com/community/files/imce/img_blogs/microsoft_patents.jpg [networkworld.com]

        I don't know what to say.

        • by Bucky24 (1943328)
          "No. 6,791,536: simulating mouse inputs using non-mouse devices"
          "No. 6,897,853: simulating mouse inputs using non-mouse devices"

          Can someone explain to me why Microsoft has two patents for the same thing? Or an I just reading that wrong?
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by Anonymous Coward

            The summary sentence is just that. There are probably (trivial) differences in the detailed description somewhere. I can't be bothered to look up the actual patents there myself, of course.

          • Those just summaries / titles of the patents, presumably the full patents contain differences.

        • by oakgrove (845019)
          That list is so freaking absurd that it just boggles the mind that Samsung, HTC, et al are actually paying hundreds of millions over it. My God, what have we become?
          • Re:Well now (Score:5, Funny)

            by Tsingi (870990) <graham.rickNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Tuesday November 15, 2011 @03:38PM (#38063690)

            My God, what have we become?

            Peasants.

          • Re:Well now (Score:5, Interesting)

            by hawguy (1600213) on Tuesday November 15, 2011 @04:06PM (#38064294)

            That list is so freaking absurd that it just boggles the mind that Samsung, HTC, et al are actually paying hundreds of millions over it. My God, what have we become?

            Here's a good conspiracy theory: Are they really paying money, or did MS say "Hey, if you "pay" this licensing fee for Android, we'll return it to you as credits on Windows Mobile licensing fees".

            So Microsoft gets to spread FUD and tell everyone "Hey, these other guys paid up, so should you", while the companies may not be paying anything.

            Since MS tried to require an NDA and confidentiality just to disclose the patents (which are already in the public domain), I wouldn't be surprised to find that they had some backroom deal to reward companies for paying for Anrdroid.

          • Re:Well now (Score:5, Interesting)

            by Darinbob (1142669) on Tuesday November 15, 2011 @04:29PM (#38064718)

            Patents have become a way for a group of big players to completely lock out the small players. Because software moves so fast (and these are all exclusively software patents from MSFT) the 20 year patent duration is excessive. Basically the libraries of patents that these companies hold are so large that they really don't know what they have or what they might be infringing upon from another company. So they simplify it by just having a blanket cross-licensing deal with all their friends. Ie, "you're probably infringing on us, and we're probably infringing on you, so let's shake hands and call it even and go after those small upstarts instead." A century ago this sort of thing would have been called a trust and invited strong government scrutiny.

      • Re:Well now (Score:5, Interesting)

        by hairyfeet (841228) <bassbeast1968@gm[ ].com ['ail' in gap]> on Tuesday November 15, 2011 @04:47PM (#38064986) Journal

        I did and in fact I'd say they are pretty damned scary if they hold up. How are you gonna make your browser with a way to tell users a page is loading as opposed to hung without a throbber of some sort? but don't forget friend we have Apple claiming rights to a square and so far the courts have sided with them which means unless you can get the courts to throw out MSFT's patents (which is NOT guaranteed by ANY means) you could see FOSS well and truly fucked. look at the one on file systems, how in the fuck are you gonna make a modern file system that does NOT infringe on that one?

        That is why while I say software patents shouldn't be allowed in the first place often you are better off just paying the troll to STFU and go away. if the courts give MSFT precedent by ruling in their favor you are screwed, and if B&N are drug through the courts for a decade or more of legal wrangling then the court fees and lawyers will screw them so bad we'll need a word worse than Pyrrhic victory for the money drain they are gonna suffer. I know guys here think they should always 'fight teh powerz!" but if you look at the costs often you are cutting your own throats.

        After all MSFT has enough cash on hand that a decade long legal fight won't cost them shit, hell they have a legal army on payroll anyway so it is the same cost whether they use them or not. How is B&N doing for cash these days?

        • Re:Well now (Score:4, Interesting)

          by jbolden (176878) on Tuesday November 15, 2011 @06:58PM (#38067158) Homepage

          They are trading for well under book since they are very close to losing money. But they have plenty and only about $700m in debt.

          Further Google might be looking to take over the lawsuit.

        • by znerk (1162519)

          That is why while I say software patents shouldn't be allowed in the first place often you are better off just paying the troll to STFU and go away.

          "Once you pay the Danegeld, you are never rid of the Dane."

          Makes me wonder why piracy isn't even more rampant than it is, with patents being ~18 years too long and copyrights being 70-100 years too long.

          Mickey Mouse is 83 , and won't be public domain for at least 15 more years (assuming Disney doesn't pull something else out of their sleeve). How long will be long enough for Disney to have profited from that particular piece of Intellectual Property? Is there a single person on the planet who hasn't been ex

    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 15, 2011 @03:01PM (#38063066)

      What is the difference between a man and a parasite? A man builds. A parasite asks "Where is my share?"

    • by glop (181086) on Tuesday November 15, 2011 @05:21PM (#38065648)

      Barnes and Noble did the world a favor and maybe we can all return the favor.
      Amazon accepted to pay Microsoft while Barnes and Noble is fighting them over their absurd patents.
      At the moment many are wondering whether to buy a Kindle Fire or a Nook Color or Nook Tablet.

      I have a Nook Color and I love it.

      The stock software is ok and color children books are nice, so I would happily recommend the product to non technical people.
      The stock software can also do youtube videos etc.

      For me, the killer feature was the micro SD card that is bootable. I put Cyanogenmod on it, got the Google market etc.

      This lawsuit makes me want to recommend the Nook to more people. I used to feel the kindle fire was just the same (minus the micro SD so hacking is a bit less friendly).

      But if Amazon is paying Microsoft, then buying a Kindle Fire is scoring against the Open Source camp.

  • It's time. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dubdays (410710) on Tuesday November 15, 2011 @02:48PM (#38062904)
    Time to fire up the old Nook Color and make a purchase.
    • Re:It's time. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by tverbeek (457094) on Tuesday November 15, 2011 @03:03PM (#38063096) Homepage

      There are no totally innocent corporations out there, and I'll always favor independent booksellers, but looking at the Nook in contrast to Amazon's censorship of the Kindle and exclusivity deals for Kindle content, B&N's commitment to bricks-and-mortar stores, and now the company's decision to stand up to Microsoft, I really am finding myself a fan of B&N.

      • by Bert64 (520050)

        Me too, unfortunately they don't sell outside the US or i'd be buying a Nook.

  • by AdamJS (2466928)

    NetworkWorld/InfoWorld/PCWorld/that whole cabal of sites are just horrible.

    Anywho, it's nice to see a relatively big name standing up to bullies.
    And lo, Nokia, how far you have fallen.

  • the thought plickens (Score:5, Interesting)

    by SoupGuru (723634) on Tuesday November 15, 2011 @02:54PM (#38062984)
    I might go out and buy another Nook to reward these guys for what they're doing.
  • by thomas.galvin (551471) <slashdot.thomas-galvin@com> on Tuesday November 15, 2011 @02:54PM (#38062994) Homepage

    First, B&N chooses an open format, ePub, for the Nook.

    Second, they make the Nook easily rootable.

    Third, they tell Microsoft to go fuck themselves.

    I'm feeling better and better about choosing Nook over Kindle every day.

  • The MS TAX..... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Odie_flocon (532770) on Tuesday November 15, 2011 @02:55PM (#38062996) Homepage
    This is the only way Microsoft can make any money on OPEN SOURCE. and of course the best kind of money made is from someone else.
  • Maybe unfounded... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 15, 2011 @02:56PM (#38063010)
    But I suddenly feel scared for Barnes and Noble. They are a relatively small company daring to take a stance against a mammoth. I really, really hope they don't get crushed. :(
  • ... this whole patent mess will indeed require a martir that will set itself on fire to show how absurd it all is. The patents M$ is trying to enforce are stupid, as anyone with 1% of the brain still active can recognize. It's sad.
  • by ackthpt (218170) on Tuesday November 15, 2011 @02:57PM (#38063014) Homepage Journal

    It's like my new super hero is kicking arse and taking names and has a big B&N crest in his chest.

    Well played, Barnes and Noble!

  • by QuietLagoon (813062) on Tuesday November 15, 2011 @02:59PM (#38063048)
    Microsoft is unable to compete in the mobile marketplace [computerworld.com], so Microsoft turns to the courts and blackmail in order to obtain Windows Mobile market share.

    .
    Those who can compete, do; those who can't, litigate.

    • by LWATCDR (28044) on Tuesday November 15, 2011 @03:05PM (#38063130) Homepage Journal

      This seems like a really foolish thing for a convicted monopoly to do. I could see a clear case being made that Microsoft is leveraging their postion in the PC market to dominate in the mobile phone market. That and the NDAs alone should really get the justice department hopping mad. Well that and an election and the fact that Google is more loved than Microsoft and people are in a "mega corps bad" mood these days and an election is coming.

      • by rsborg (111459) on Wednesday November 16, 2011 @01:18AM (#38070498) Homepage

        This seems like a really foolish thing for a convicted monopoly to do.

        Microsoft started it's Android patent protection program [networkworld.com] in full, and their judicial oversight just ended [arstechnica.com] Both events are April 2011... clearly coincidence and happenstance.

  • Wooow, just Woooow (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Riceballsan (816702) on Tuesday November 15, 2011 @03:07PM (#38063174)
    For those who don't RTFA this is frickin ridiculous, here's Microsoft patents that they are racking in the dough from phone carriers over.

    1. Loading icon in the content window of a browser

    2. Compatibility of file names with current and outmoded operating systems

    3. Storing input/output in a shared file system

    4. Simulating mouse inputs on a device without a mouse

    5. A browser that recognizes background images and displays them after the text is loaded

    6. Using handles to change the size of selected text

    • Isn't #5 part of how all browsers work when you specify with and height for your images in html?

    • And not to forget, gray rectangle.
    • by Daetrin (576516)
      Don't get me wrong, i love Android, but i'm pretty sure they're not in violation of #5. Not given the number of times i've had to sit there waiting while pretty much everything in the page has been loaded _except_ for the main text =P
    • by gl4ss (559668)

      it's highly probable that the other manufacturers didn't care about these patents being so ridiculous.

      you know why? they're not really paying. they get subs in wp licenses.
      (apparently, I got no source or proof of course!)

  • I have a Nook. I mostly use it for reference stuff and for when I'm traveling (I generally prefer paper books, but well, the world changes). I like it, and I like Barnes & Noble. Now I'm really rooting for B&N. As a side note ... there was a thread a few days ago about "what's keeping you on Windows?" This is one of the reasons I don't use Windows. I know Windows 7 works well, probably better than any previous version. But I won't buy a product from a company that does stuff like this, i.e. a
  • 6,339,780
    5,579,517
    5,652,913
    5,758,352
    6,791,536
    6,897,853
    6,339,780
    5,778,372
    5,889,522
    6,891,551
    6,957,233
    Saved you the trouble of RTFA.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 15, 2011 @03:43PM (#38063812)
      Patents identified prior to litigation
      • 6,339,780 [uspto.gov]: placing a loading status icon in the content viewing area of a browser
      • 5,579,517 [uspto.gov]: compatibility of file names employed by current and outmoded operating systems
      • 5,652,913 [uspto.gov]: storing input/output access factors in a shared data structure
      • 5,758,352 [uspto.gov]: compatibility of file names employed by current and outmoded operating systems
      • 6,791,536 [uspto.gov]: simulating mouse inputs using non-mouse devices
      • 6,897,853 [uspto.gov]: simulating mouse inputs using non-mouse devices

      Patents asserted in litigation

      • 6,339,780 [uspto.gov]: placing a loading status icon in the content viewing area of a browser
      • 5,778,372 [uspto.gov]: browser that recognises background images in an electronic document and displays the background images after text - i.e. duplicate display
      • 5,889,522 [uspto.gov]: putting known tab controls into an operating system for use by all applications, rather then providing tabs on an application-by-application basis
      • 6,891,551 [uspto.gov]: using handles to change the size selection areas for selected text
      • 6,957,233 [uspto.gov]: storing and displaying of annotations of text which is not modifiable

      These are the descriptions from the image in TFA

  • by JSBiff (87824) on Tuesday November 15, 2011 @03:20PM (#38063366) Journal

    I thought MS are supposed to be Staunch Champions of the Freedom to Innovate, hardy har har.

    Ridiculous - leveraging a few patents on minor functionality which might cover .00001 percent of Android functionality into a patent royalty which is out of all proportion to the "size" of MS's "contribution" to the product AND putting onerous development requirements on Android developers to hamstring it's future progress so that they're own platform can prevail not on its merits, but on their ability to control the competition with patents.

    This is *everything* that's wrong with the software patent system.

  • by dcigary (221160) on Tuesday November 15, 2011 @03:34PM (#38063606) Homepage

    I'm only half kidding here. Patent lawyers have replaced Personal Injury lawyers as the scum of the earth. The entire patent system needs to be re-vamped, legislation passed outlawing patent squatting and technology stifling. And a firing squad for the patent lawyers.

  • by rsilvergun (571051) on Tuesday November 15, 2011 @03:35PM (#38063630)
    because everyone's so scared of Microsoft. They've got such a reputation for dominating every market they enter and then screwing their partners that even the big guys are backing open standards out of fear of getting cut out of the deal by MS. It reminds me of those old west shows where the gunslingers were sitting 'round a table playing poker ready to gun each other down at the first sign of cheating...
  • by goruka (1721094) on Tuesday November 15, 2011 @03:40PM (#38063778)
    How can Microsoft be threatening giant corporations with such incredibly ridiculously simple, obvious, irrelevant and pre-existing patents? How can they even call them "inventions"? How can so many companies be SO afraid of Microsoft to pay them large sums of money for this? Are they that much afraid that the patent system is so broken that they will have massive losses if they litigate? Something is not right with the world!!
    • by Thantik (1207112) on Wednesday November 16, 2011 @05:47AM (#38071516)

      Because, if I recall correctly, Microsoft hasn't revealed any of these patents until now. They've basically gone: "We're Microsoft. We're huge. You KNOW we have a warchest full of patents, and it would be an awful shame if something happened to your business that kept you from making any profit due to these patents. We can make this little problem go away, just give us [X]"

      These companies don't want to put up the fight, and believe it's probably going to be cheaper, and easier just to pay Microsoft their protection money.

      Now that these patents are out in the open, Microsoft licensees may just be rethinking their stance.

  • Trivial? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by thunderdanp (1481263) on Tuesday November 15, 2011 @03:47PM (#38063932)
    I would very much like an individual to cite a piece of prior art and write of cogent argument why the claims of the issued patents are invalid. It is all too easy to fall prey to hindsight bias when dealing with patents that were filed over a decade ago.
  • by amoeba1911 (978485) on Tuesday November 15, 2011 @04:22PM (#38064614) Homepage

    Patents can be obtained when someone invents a novel process or machine that had not been done before... that is what I would have said if you asked me about patents about 30 years ago. Today, patents are obtained by lawyers for the benefit of lawyers. Overwhelming majority of technology patents today are bogus litigation fuel. We all know 100% of all software patents are entirely bogus, yet they are wasting time and money that could go to R&D, instead it's going to the lawyers' pockets.

    Computers and their software came this far riding on the skirts of innovation fueled by sharing, competing and communicating. This energy is being tapped today by lawyers who have nothing better to do than to sink their fangs into the arteries of innovation and suck the energy that had been fueling innovation since the 1960's.

  • by andydread (758754) on Tuesday November 15, 2011 @04:37PM (#38064830)
    According Barnes and Noble this about open source software in general not just Android. They mention Tomtom and other non-Android device manufacturers. Microsoft is on a campaign to kill open source in the marketplace. More info available here [groklaw.net] and a damning PDF with lots of juicy information here [groklaw.net]
  • by Code Yanker (2359188) on Tuesday November 15, 2011 @04:54PM (#38065120)

    a lot of editorial comments, branding WP7 as Windows Mobile, and obvious misleading lines. The headers to the patents involved misled me to believe that the patents covered broad UI concepts with huge areas of scope with 15 years of prior art. Patent 5,889,522 for example was stated as claiming "putting known tab controls into an operating system for use by all applications rather than providing tabs on an application-by-application basis."

    That sounds wicked general and its a really old UI concept that seems obvious to anyone who switched to Firefox back in the day for exactly that reason. Until you read the actual patent and discover that in reality they are claiming the implementation of the UI SDK framework that comes as part of the OS. Oh yeah, and the patent was filed back in 1994. I'm not sure how many operating systems offered tab-centric UI support in the SDKs for third party apps back then, but I'm thinking prior art will be a little hard to come by, and tabs sure as hell didn't seem like such a duh-concept back before they were ubiquitous, much less a specific object implementation of a tab control in a common UI SDK for the OS.

    After reading a few of the actual claims from some of the patents, I stopped wasting my time and discarded the whole patent table. After the TFA came out and stated that Microsoft was pure evil, which was unfortunately at the very end, I felt dirty for having even clicked. What MS is doing may be wrong, and it certainly hinders innovation, but let us not pretend that one company serving its shareholders' interests is going to be evil while another company doing the same damn thing is going to be the Shining White Knight of our fantasy.

  • by Sloppy (14984) on Tuesday November 15, 2011 @05:07PM (#38065392) Homepage Journal

    People have known for decades that it's sometime useful to give users feedback about something that takes a long time, by displaying a progress meter or at least "Please wait" or "loading" or "initializing the galaxy." When GUIs got popular, displaying it as an icon was natural. When small screens started to get more popular, it became somewhat common to eschew fixed-position widgets in favor of using the entire screen as a "content area" because there was so little to spare for scrollbars, status displays, or whatever.

    Yet despite this situation, no one could figure out how to display a loading status icon in a content area. Or at least no one easily could. But then Microsoft Research applied themselves to the problem, and with a lot of insight, experiments, trial and error, hard work, and just plain luck, they figured out how to do it. I've never seen a Microsoft handheld computer, but presumably they used the novel solution in a product. But nobody wanted it, so it died. And Microsoft, too, may some day die.

    The secret for how to display a status icon in a content area, could become lost when Microsoft dies. But no. Not willing to let their efforts be buried by the sands of time as a lost trade secret, they took advantage of patent law, which gave them a brief monopoly (a mere 20 years within the millennia that people have been doing mathematics) for which We The Public received public disclosure for how their invention works.

    And what did Google and Barnes & Noble do? They renegged on the disclosure-for-monopoly deal!! Instead of having to figure out on their own, how to display a status icon in a content area, they dishonorably read through all of Microsoft patents, learned all the secrets ("aha! That's how to display a status icon, where the icon is in the content area! Ingenious!") and defied the monopoly.

    And here you all are, blaming the victim, Microsoft. Yet without Microsoft, would you know how to display an icon inside a content area instead of outside it? Or would you be pounding your keyboards in frustration? "It doesn't compile!" or "It doesn't run right! There's my icon, but it's outside of the content area! How did they do it!" or "There's my icon inside the content area, but WTF, it doesn't say 'Loading'! How is the user supposed to know it's loading something, if I can't figure out how to make the icon say 'Loading'?!" Please, people, think of the inventors and their technical solutions. Without the monopoly, they might not have had any incentive at all, to solve the long-standing mystery.

  • by Peter Simpson (112887) on Tuesday November 15, 2011 @07:37PM (#38067672)
    Interesting that the slide show is from Cravath Swaine and Moore, the same lawyers IBM hired when tSCOg sued them.
  • by advocate_one (662832) on Wednesday November 16, 2011 @04:09AM (#38071178)
    or how patents held back the industrial revolution... see here [mises.org]

    Once Watt's patents were secured and production started, a substantial portion of his energy was devoted to fending off rival inventors. In 1782, Watt secured an additional patent, made "necessary in consequence of ... having been so unfairly anticipated, by [Matthew] Wasborough in the crank motion". More dramatically, in the 1790s, when the superior Hornblower engine was put into production, Boulton and Watt went after him with the full force of the legal system.

    During the period of Watt's patents the United Kingdom added about 750 horsepower of steam engines per year. In the thirty years following Watt's patents, additional horsepower was added at a rate of more than 4,000 per year. Moreover, the fuel efficiency of steam engines changed little during the period of Watt's patent; while between 1810 and 1835 it is estimated to have increased by a factor of five.

    As far as I'm concerned, Microsoft has held back the progress of computing by possibly some 15 years from what we could have now...

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