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Microsoft Patents Your Rights Online

B&N Sought DoJ Inquiry Over Microsoft Patents 162

Meshach writes "There's an interesting story at the WSJ about how Barnes & Noble lobbied the Justice Department to open a new antitrust probe against Microsoft regarding their abuse of the patent system. B&N saw Microsoft filing a slew of frivolous patents in order to stop the development of handheld devices, potentially affecting their Nook reader. The article mentions how Microsoft has a similar racket going with various Android device manufacturers, but B&N does not have the cash reserves to support similar licensing, and is fighting back." Reader qantr points out related news: Chinese telecoms firm Huawei has confirmed that Microsoft is demanding royalty payments over products running Android.
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B&N Sought DoJ Inquiry Over Microsoft Patents

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  • Geeks don't have $$ (Score:5, Informative)

    by Compaqt ( 1758360 ) on Wednesday November 09, 2011 @06:20AM (#37997154) Homepage

    So the next best thing we can hope for is that the interests of various corporations align with the general geek consensus for an open Internet and the right to develop software:

    For an open Internet: Google
    For the right to copy (not infringing copies): the Consumer Electronics Association.
    Against patents: B&N, Google/Motorola, various Linux foundations.

  • by PolygamousRanchKid ( 1290638 ) on Wednesday November 09, 2011 @06:44AM (#37997248)

    See my submission for Bloomberg's non-paywall version: http://slashdot.org/submission/1842986/barnes-noble-urges-us-to-probe-microsoft-o [slashdot.org]

  • Re:Trolls (Score:5, Informative)

    by Locutus ( 9039 ) on Wednesday November 09, 2011 @07:42AM (#37997530)
    if you read up on the B&N complaints about Microsoft it was indeed about how they insisted and even tried various tricks to get B&N to sign an NDA or act as if they were still under one. The B&N lawyers kept saying we don't need any NDA to read public patents so just give a list.

    What you stated sounds just like the Microsoft I've known for 20+ years and would not surprise me.

    Too bad so many think Microsoft is doing this to make money from the licensing.

  • by Locutus ( 9039 ) on Wednesday November 09, 2011 @08:00AM (#37997650)
    bull shit, B&N is mainly complaining that the licensing fees are excessive. Microsoft wants something like $15 per device and that is as much or more than they charge for licensing their complete Windows Mobile OS. vFAT or what ever Microsoft is claiming is such a small part of the whole system the fees are excessive in any patent system.

    These excessive fees and how Microsoft is forcing vendors to sign an NDA just to see the patents are outside of the patent system. To top it off, it appears at least the vFAT patent is related to ties with interoperability with their monopoly in the Windows desktop OS.

  • by andydread ( 758754 ) on Wednesday November 09, 2011 @08:43AM (#37997862)

    Microsoft is using gangster extortion tactics. [geekwire.com]

    In Barnes & Noble's own words to the court:-
    At the meeting, Microsoft alleged that the Nook infringed six patents purportedly owned by Microsoft. Microsoft had prepared claim charts purportedly detailing the alleged infringement but insisted that it would only share the detailed claim charts if Barnes & Noble agreed to sign a non-disclosure agreement (“NDA”) that would cover the claim charts as well as all other aspects of the parties’ discussions. Noting that the patents were public and that the infringement allegations pertained to Barnes & Noble’s public product, Barnes & Noble refused to sign an NDA.

    Insisting that an NDA was necessary, Microsoft discussed the alleged infringement on a high level basis only. Microsoft nevertheless maintained that it possessed patents sufficient to dominate and entirely preclude the use of the Android Operating System by the Nook. Microsoft demanded an exorbitant royalty (on a per device basis) for a license to its patent portfolio for the Nook device and at the end of the meeting Microsoft stated that it would demand an even higher per device royalty for any device that acted “more like a computer” as opposed to an eReader.

    After sending the proposed license agreement, Microsoft confirmed the shockingly high licensing fees Microsoft was demanding, reiterating its exorbitant per device royalty for Nook, and for the first time demanding a royalty for Nook Color which was more than double the per device royalty Microsoft was demanding for Nook. On information and belief, the license fees demanded by Microsoft are higher than what Microsoft charges for a license to its entire operating system designed for mobile devices, Windows Phone 7

    So Microsoft is not trying to license their trivial, dubious software-patents under Fair Reasonable and NON Discriminatory terms. They are trying to drive up the cost of open source beyond what it would cost to purchase windows from them. They are sleazy slimy bullies. Will no longer use or recommend their products to ANYONE.

  • Re:Lack of Cash (Score:5, Informative)

    by alexhs ( 877055 ) on Wednesday November 09, 2011 @09:38AM (#37998302) Homepage Journal

    Microsoft finally agreed to talk to them about the patents without an NDA, B&N's lawyers looked at them and explained to Microsoft they don't cover their devices, as the patents covered features the devices didn't have.
    Microsoft came back and explained those were just a few of the patents they had, that they could go back and find patents B&N did infringe on if they didn't sign a license agreement.

    Yes, same tactics [forbes.com] as IBM used in the 80's :

    My own introduction to the realities of the patent system came in the 1980s, when my client, Sun Microsystems--then a small company--was accused by IBM of patent infringement. Threatening a massive lawsuit, IBM demanded a meeting to present its claims. Fourteen IBM lawyers and their assistants, all clad in the requisite dark blue suits, crowded into the largest conference room Sun had.

    The chief blue suit orchestrated the presentation of the seven patents IBM claimed were infringed [...]

    After IBM's presentation, our turn came. As the Big Blue crew looked on (without a flicker of emotion), my colleagues--all of whom had both engineering and law degrees--took to the whiteboard with markers, methodically illustrating, dissecting, and demolishing IBM's claims. [...] Confidently, we proclaimed our conclusion: Only one of the seven IBM patents would be deemed valid by a court, and no rational court would find that Sun's technology infringed even that one.

    An awkward silence ensued. The blue suits did not even confer among themselves. They just sat there, stonelike. Finally, the chief suit responded. "OK," he said, "maybe you don't infringe these seven patents. But we have 10,000 U.S. patents. Do you really want us to go back to Armonk [IBM headquarters in New York] and find seven patents you do infringe? Or do you want to make this easy and just pay us $20 million?"

    After a modest bit of negotiation, Sun cut IBM a check, and the blue suits went to the next company on their hit list.

    In corporate America, this type of shakedown is repeated weekly. The patent as stimulant to invention has long since given way to the patent as blunt instrument for establishing an innovation stranglehold. [...]

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