back to article Barnes & Noble answers Microsoft's anti-Android suit

Bookseller and Nook e-reader vendor Barnes & Noble has lashed out at Microsoft in response to Redmond's recent lawsuit against the company and its Nook manufacturing partners Foxconn and Inventec. Microsoft's lawsuit, filed on March 21, alleges that the Nook's Android operating system infringes upon patents held by Redmond, …


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  1. Tom 35 Silver badge


    "Also, if Microsoft's "exorbitant licensing fees" have a "highly detrimental anticompetitive effect" on the market, as Barnes & Noble asserts, why are HTC and Amazon – which, as reported in their filing, have licensing agreements with Microsoft – doing so well in their respective smartphone and e-reader markets?"

    You already answered your own question.

    "These types of disputes tend to be settled in corporate conference rooms, with chunks of change changing hands."

    The first few get it cheap, then they use the list of people who paid as proof that their claim must be good so you better pay too.

  2. DavCrav Silver badge

    Having a look at the patents...

    (just the abstracts, mind...)

    1) we have a patent about loading the text first on a webpage

    2) we have a patent for a loading bar!!!!

    3) we have as far as I can tell a patent for pop-ups

    4) this is a patent for resizing

    5) a patent for allowing comments on a read-only document.

    2 is a patent on having any indication of how long it takes to do something, and totally obvious to anyone who isn't a gorilla. 5) is pretty obvious, and I cannot even be bothered with the rest. As far as I can tell, patent 2 applies to almost every piece of computer software ever written, including the coffee machine at work.

    Software patents need to die.

    1. QrazyQat

      Just you wait

      I'm writing up a patent on making obvious objections to software patents in online comments, and when it's done you'll be hearing from my lawyers!

      1. DavCrav Silver badge

        But, but...

        Prior art!

        Wait, that doesn't seem to matter to the patent offices. Crap.

    2. Muscleguy Silver badge


      Your post is offensive to all the great apes and gorillas in particular. In future please restrict such epithets at gibbons who are too frivolous to bother noticing anything (comes with having a ball and socket joint in the wrist) or safer still, Lemurs (but not the cute ones).


      The campaign for all great apes to be included in the genus Homo

      1. P Saunders

        Oy (eeek?)

        And what's wrong with ugly lemurs? The UN is going to hear about this (or is it Greenpeace? WWF?)


        Anne Ugly-Lemur

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Gates Horns

    Wait a second...

    Maybe I missed some sort of huge economic recovery, but isn't B&N bankrupt and closing stores like crazy?

    What's the point in suing someone who doesn't have any money? Spite?

    1. Ben Boyle


      You're thinking of Borders. As far as I know B&N is ticking along alright, albeit not in the rudest of health.

    2. Anonymous Coward

      You mean Borders?

      I thought B&N was doing decent (not great but not Borders either)...

    3. Muscleguy Silver badge

      Different B

      I think you are thinking of Borders.

  4. Parsifal


    And this is yet another example of why the patent system is broken, i could understand patenting actual code to prevent someone either lifting it directly for use in another system , or even creating code to perform the task by plagiarizing the code.

    But to actually be granted a patent based only on a method describing the steps to take is ludicrous, especially when if the description of the problem was given to a 100 software designers , the likelihood of similar/identical methods would be reasonably high.

    1. Stoneshop Silver badge

      Copying code

      would already be covered under copyright law (might need some tweaking); to me it looks like there's no need to (mis)use patent law for that.

      With much of the functionality of devices nowadays implemented in software, where it would back when be pure hardware and therefore patentable if sufficiently unique and innovative, I'm a little reluctant to call for an outright ban on software patents. But the checks for a patent application with regard to it being non-trivial, innovative and unique should be applied with vigour. About umpteen gazillion times more vigour than is being done now.

      Oh, and companies should only be able to file three patent applications per head of staff in their R&D and development departments per year. Patents should also be non-transferrable except when the company owning them actually gets bought.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Basically covered it. These patents are trivial and obvious. A 1st year CS student would not work up a sweat at having to suggest them as features of some imagined device. Implementing them might require the 2nd year team project.

    1. chr0m4t1c

      It's worse than that

      At least four of those patents were applied for some 15-20 years after the things they describe were in general use and the fifth one is for something that Adobe's PDF software was able to do

      I know the software patent system is broken, but this is taking the p*ss. Will they be granted a patent for "displaying a numeric pad on a touch-screen in order to make a phone call" next?

      Wonko was right.

  6. Gene Cash Silver badge

    No NDA

    Yes, the patents are relatively trivial. The big deal here is that B&N refused to sign the NDA that HTC, Amazon, etc signed, and so now this is all out in the open.

    Microsoft's tool was to say "we have tons of patents to use as a weapon" and hope the target company was scared enough to just sign the papers.

    This is the same crap as the "Microsoft has patents on Linux but we won't tell you which ones" except now B&N has pried loose in public which patents they are.

    I'm tempted to go buy a Nook now.

    1. DrXym Silver badge

      Nooks look pretty cool

      It's too bad they're outside of the regular Android ecosystem. They are android devices but the 2.2 spec requires things they don't implement.

      What they do indicate is that Android is an extremely versatile OS, and even in its crippled / custom form the Nook has sold nearly 3 million devices. Amazon can't be far off from their own offering (hence the reason for the Amazon app store)

      1. Edgar Scrutton

        Nook rules for Value

        Getting my NookColor to do some surfing,

        Purchased two NookColors in early January 2011. Great ereader / library system but sucked on the internet. NOT ANY MORE. Earlier this week B&N made available an OS upgrade to Android 2.? with an improved web browser, IMAP/POP email and other apps. More coming. Great screen. Wife and I love it. Beats hauling a laptop around the world. (An no k'towing to Apple or MS).

        Now, got to go and eread.....


      2. dssf

        I felt tempted to get a Nook, too, just to support B&N in this case...

        What I think ms is doing is trying to "wrangle and strangle" any companies using Android and smartphones or tablet formats. This could be one way ms hopes to have win7 phones topple Apple's lead over ms.

        It is amazing though, how the USPTO has failed miserably on this. The obvious, blatant, unmistakable thing that could have been predicted 15 years ago was that IDE (Integrated Development Environment) tools keep on improving, and aside from some of them having a mind-numbing and torquing effect on WYSIWYG users wanting to NOT become developers and not wanting to PAY developers, these tools enable a capable user to quickly make prototypes that conceivably can be grapically polished and have some more irresistible functionality bolted onto well-crafted widgets.

        As long as IDEs are increasingly empowered, it really is up to the imagination and perseverence of the "developer" (pro and amateur) to serve up something tantalizing. Suing over what features an IDE automatically provides under some widget or code library/factory is stupid, evil, and plain pschotic.

      3. Anonymous Coward

        Nook runs Honeycomb

        Have a look on YouTube. You can install Honeycomb to the SD card, and it'll even overclock from the stock 800MHz to 1.1GHz. Pop out the SD card, and you've got the stock reader again.


  7. Simon2


    This is just ridiculous! This better get thrown out of court. I wish software patents would die but it's very unlikely to happen.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    "2) we have a patent for a loading bar!!!!"

    Surely it's an egg-timer they've patented?

    Whichever, good on you B&N.

  9. Spanners Silver badge

    My next phone purchase

    When I got a new (HTC) phone, over a year ago, the fact that it was open source was a plus. A smaller one than it wasn't an iPhone or running anything from Microsoft, but a positive all the same.

    The next time, another item to consider will be that the manufacturer is not funding any patent trolls. That seems to rule out HTC and others then...

    1. Giles Jones Gold badge


      Paying up legitimises the claim and gives the patent troll more incentive. But HTC are in a difficult situation being a long time WinMoPho OEM.

  10. sisk Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    Patent troll

    Microsoft has officially become a patent troll. These aren't even patents that are likely to stand up in court. I mean, a patent for progress bars? One for highlighting text filed? Come on, these things don't have a prayer of standing up, even in the US. Most of them have prior works and they're all pretty obvious.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    They may be the law of the land but I praise them for their response and wish more companies would respond in like manner. Then the courts will see that the people think that patents and copyrights, designed to protect innovations made are being used to stifle innovation, a direct opposite of what they're aiming to do, then perhaps some re-consideration is in order of the way patents work in the modern day age.

  12. Anonymous Coward

    what a load of twaddle

    just read the 5 patents. all of them obvious, all of them have been implemented in many other places - another case of software patents being used as a form of weapon to stop IT progressing.

    all those who want a few big dominant players to tell us how to do things - keep this insane system

    for those that want the computer world to evolve, to be able to achieve new technology and

    not have coders spending time working around silly obvious algorithms and techniques - lets get rid of these silly software patents

  13. Charlie van Becelaere
    Gates Horns

    Need I say more?

    see icon for comment.

    That is all.

  14. Doug 3

    HTC and Amazon are different situations

    HTC is now shipping WP7 phones along with Android based phones so they deal they got may have been that decided to not be Android exclusive and let Microsoft back in the game. As for Amazon's Kindle, that is an ebook reader and not going to compete with Windows on tablets or Windows on netbooks or standard computers. B&N on the other hand have enabled and leveraged Android on their Nook and are selling it much much more than just an ebook reader.

    Microsoft is going after those who are helping create the Android ecosystem and give Microsoft no leverage what so ever in regulate that. It seems like it's all about Windows baby.

    skull and swords because if you don't play by the pirates rules, ye get keel hauled for doin so.

    1. dssf

      How long you wanna guess it'll be before ms

      Craps on the eReader devices market?

      One day, they'll be into things Fry's Electronics sells:


      bubble gum

      energy drinks

      tampons/sanitary napkins


      navigation devices

      Maybe they'll come up with screen protectors that obscure that 1/64' inch edged inside the bezel of flatscreens to make sure we remember the "ms owns" the screen edge around the desktop.

      Maybe someone'll make a driver that shrinks the desktop by a millimeter so that edge-based adverts can be summoned by user-defined regions (Left for money; top for health; right for tech support/technology; bottom for User-Defined)


  15. Johan Bastiaansen

    Can I patent a method of

    Determining time by studying the position of the sun, relative to the horizon.

    We claim:

    A method of determining time by interpreting the position of the sun, relative to the horizon on any given place on earth. The time could be shown by 2 or more pointers on a circular disc, or a disc of any shape, or even a single pointer on said disc, or even numerically.

    It seems some software companies decided to breach my patent and show time on the task bar of a computer, or at least the display of a computer, used for displaying the task bar, with said indication of time.


  16. Graham Marsden
    Dead Vulture

    "The Reg believes that perhaps Barnes & Noble protesteth too much...

    "... Software patents may suck, but they're the law of the land. If you play the game, you follow the rules – even when the rules are moronic."

    Is this actually The Reg speaking or just Rik Myslewski claiming to speak on behalf of El Reg?

    Whatever the case it's a bloody stupid statement as it's saying that you should just shut up and accept the rules of a broken and discredited system instead of standing up to a bully who is trying to exploit those rules for their own benefit and saying "No, we're not going to be held to random and pushed into signing a licensing agreement with a patent troll".

    The USA needs to fix its patent system and more cases like this will supply the ammunition to get rid of it.

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
      Big Brother

      With this Prussian Understanding of Law And Order...

      ...we will finally make some progress.

      Right, who's up for getting in at the back of the cattle trucks? Remember, it may suck for you, but it's the Law!

  17. Anonymous Coward

    I say

    Let the daft patents continue, the US Fuckwit Office (sorry patent office) is already creaking under the strain and so are the courts. Eventually it will just collapse in on-itself as the good ol US of A companies find out three things :

    1) Lawyers are blood sucking tossers. <--- (patent applied for)

    2) Software patents have never worked and never will.

    3) Other countries don't have these insane patent laws and so guess where innovation will move to?

    1. Anonymous Coward

      I'm with you on #1 but

      #2 - Software patents work extremely well for lawyers who win no matter who's losing (see #1)

      #3 - Innovation will move nowhere because of the large US corporations who are intensely lobbying EU and others to adopt software patents US style (number #2 helps tremendously here too)

  18. Anonymous Coward

    Uhh... Hello!

    In case you missed it, The Obama administration, in the U.S., is currently moving quickly to impose a "first to file" system (but, which still accepts "software", and "methods", patents). This new version of the UTTERLY-BROKEN U.S. patent-system is, basically, specifically-designed to completely ignores "prior art", OR "obviousness" and doesn't consider actual "invention" OR "prior use" to be even remotely important.

    In fact, this so-called, "patent system reform" is more than half-way through the legislative process. And, Obama has flatly stated that he is champing-at-the-bit to sign it. And, guess who one of the biggest supporters of this new, "modernization" of the patent-system, was... THAT'S RIGHT... Microsoft.

    In other news, Microsoft continues frantically buying control of Linux-patents... using shell-companies. And... almost quietly... internal Microsoft documents have, apparently, just been released that absolutely confirm Microsoft's intentional use of "front" companies to fund/prop-up "SCO's" attack/FUD-Campaign against "Linux".

    And... all the while... Microsoft continues to file hundreds of mindlessly-trivial, and UTTERLY-BOGUS, "software patents" every year.

    So... I guess our IT-company will simply have to dump our Linux investment, and simply renew the Microsoft "licenses" we were abandoning.

    But, hey... if it's, "...the law of the land"...

  19. David Knapman

    The real juice

    So far as I can see, the best part of B&Ns response is where they point out that one of the patents ('233) was essentially rejected in another form, because of prior art ('552 Cassorla patent), but they failed to bring that prior art to the Patent Offices attention whilst working to get '233 approved.

  20. Kevin Bailey

    at last!

    A company with some guts. The B and N statement sums up the issue exactly.

    Now all we need is for the courts and some politicians to show some balls and this thug of a company might be stopped from running it's extortion racket.

  21. Bilgepipe
    Gates Horns

    Microsoft Business Model

    >>> "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, but nevertheless seeks to dominate something it did not invent,"

    And there we have the Microsoft business model in one bite-sized sentence.

  22. Magnus_Pym

    Law + cosmology

    More and more Americans are training to be layers and litigation is also increasing exponentially. At some point it will become a self sustaining entity which begins to consume the entire US ecosystem. Soon after this it becomes too large to contain and will go supernova, spewing dangerous levels of litigation across the rest of the world. All that will be left will be a super-dense legal structure that will consume anything that gets too near. Within this field the normal rules of common-law will cease to exist. Wrong becomes right, truth becomes a lie, justice is ruled only by random events. Nothing can escape the black hole.

    How far along this track the system has travelled is for you to decide...

    1. Stoneshop Silver badge


      Your comment violates prior art: It's just a blatant and trivial copy of the Shoe Event Horizon Postulate, and you will have been hearing from its author once he's got this time-travel thingie sorted to be able to jump back from his tax exile.

      1. Magnus_Pym


        Sorry. I will slightly re-word the post and re-enter it. That'll fix it...

        ... won't it?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Gates Horns

      Re: Microsoft Business Model

      Microsoft want everyone to pay the Microsoft Tax - even if the customer doesn't want their products, the customer still has to pay them some money - and yet they probably didn't invent that role of industry-wide tax collector, either.

  23. Anonymous Coward


    From the reference section in the 634,380 patent application -

    "Lemay, Teach Yourself Web Publishing with HTML 3.0 in a Week, Sams Publishing, Dec. 7, 1995.."

    Shows the amount of research that went into that one:

    1. Read dummies guide

    2. File patent

    3. $$$

    If Amazon really are paying license fees to M$ for their use of Linux on the Kindle, I hope it's only on sales in the US where this inanity is allowed to exist.

  24. Field Marshal Von Krakenfart
    Gates Horns

    Let me get this clear...

    Google have already sucked up to MickySoft and agreed to pay royalties for the evil empire's patent on loading bars, pop-ups and resizing.

    Is that the same google that said that the glibc headers are "so simple and unoriginal that it can't be copyrighted"

    Some sort of cartel in operation methinks...

  25. Greg J Preece

    Barnes & Noble

    Another company about to switch to Linux-only systems, I reckon. ;-)

  26. This post has been deleted by a moderator

  27. paul 97

    may buy one now

    This is a good stand B&N are taking.

    I may go and buy a Nook now just to support their efforts against MS.

    1. Steve Gill

      Wish I could get one

      but they still don't seem to be available or supported over here in the UK

  28. Cameron Colley

    So, who are Microsoft paying off?

    Which US senators are in the pocket of MS? All of them? The US seems to be the biggest threat to innovation there is right now -- it's a damn shame they're fucking things up for those of us who don't even live there. The world should boycott US products until they get their house in order and sack the paid-for government and get a proper one.

  29. Manu T

    RE: So, who are Microsoft paying off?

    To Cameron Colley: Do you think Europe is any better?

    The "industrialised" western world is doomed. Innovation is killed by laws and regulations. It's clear where this is going to.

    I good idea is to watch the 1973's movie Soylent Green. This isn't far off and at the rate this is going we will end up with a few corporations dictating everything (including the gruesome outcome they have in store for us)!


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