Earlier this year, Microsoft sued Barnes & Noble for patent infringement over its use of Android in the Nook Color. (I somehow missed this when it happened, so didn’t know about it when I posted this article more recently about Microsoft’s Android patent licensing deals.) But this week, an interesting new document emerged as evidence in the case: a 29-page slide deck from Barnes & Noble presenting the problems with Microsoft’s patent stance.
The site that presented the slides, GeekWire, is down right now (presumably due to the heavy bandwidth demand from all 29 of those pictures being downloaded by everybody who saw the article linked on Techmeme), but the Google Cache of all 29 slides is available. In the presentation, Barnes & Noble complains that Microsoft is demanding licensing fees commensurate with owning Android for the sake of just a few patents. The presentation was originally given in July to officials from the US Department of Justice Antitrust Division.
The Wall Street Journal reports that Barnes & Noble requested an anti-trust investigation of Microsoft on patent grounds. A letter from the company’s general counsel complains that MIcrosoft is attempting to kill off small players in the handheld device industry by license fees that only larger companies can afford. (It also noted that Microsoft’s desired license fees for the Nook Color were higher than B&N could afford.)
Meanwhile, Microsoft has extended licenses to a number of Android-using companies including Samsung, HTC, and Acer. A spokesman for the company pointed out that Microsoft had to take licenses for others’ patents used in Windows, and makes its own licenses available “on reasonable terms” for others.
This is not the only ongoing patent skirmish in the handheld device industry right now, of course. The epic battle between Samsung and Apple over the Galaxy Tab’s resemblance to the iPad threatens to make devices from one company or the other unavailable in parts of Europe or Australia. The Justice Department is looking into the matter of technology patent fights and purchases.