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Barnes & Noble seeks DoJ probe into Microsoft Android patent tactics

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Barnes & Noble has accused Microsoft of attempting to stifle innovation in the mobile device market by demanding royalties for the use of Android, for which Microsoft owns a number of key software patents, reports Bloomberg. The book giant has asked the US Department of Justice to launch an antitrust investigation against Microsoft.

“Microsoft is embarking on a campaign of asserting trivial and outmoded patents against manufacturers of Android devices,” wrote Barnes & Noble, in a letter to Gene Kimmelman, the DoJ’s chief counsel for corporate competition policy. “Microsoft is attempting to raise its rivals’ costs in order to drive out competition and to deter innovation in mobile devices.”

Of course, Microsoft sees things differently.

In March, Microsoft sued Barnes & Noble, saying that its Nook and Nook Color e-readers infringe on five of its patents. The software maker has filed a complaint with the US International Trade Commission, in an attempt to block imports of the Nook devices. 

“All modern operating systems include many patented technologies,” said Microsoft in response to Barnes & Noble’s claims. “Microsoft has taken licenses to patents for Windows and we make our patents available on reasonable terms for other operating systems, like Android. We would be pleased to extend a license to Barnes & Noble.”

So far, HTC, Samsung and Amazon have all agreed to sign licensing agreements with Microsoft. Barnes & Noble says the patents Microsoft owns supply a “trivial and non-essential design element” Android. In addition, Barnes & Noble says that the licensing fee is equal to what Microsoft charges for the use of its Windows Phone OS. 

Barnes & Noble also pointed to Microsoft’s recent partnerships with Nokia and MOSAID, which recently acquired 2,000 patents from Nokia, as evidence that the Redmond, Washington-based company aims to make it harder for other mobile device makers to compete.

The trial between Barnes & Noble and Microsoft will begin in February of next year.

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