Barnes & Noble Asks U.S. Government To Probe Microsoft On Patent Royalties


Barnes & Noble, Inc. (NYSE:BKS) has asked U.S. government regulators to investigate whether Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) is seeking to monopolize the mobile device market by demanding patent royalties for electronics based on the Google Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android operating system.

“Microsoft is embarking on a campaign of asserting trivial and outmoded patents against manufacturers of Android devices,” said Barnes & Noble in a statement to Justice Department chief consel for competition policy Gene Kimmelman. “Microsoft is attempting to raise its rivals’ costs in order to drive out competition and to deter innovation in mobile devices.”

Microsoft has accused Barnes & Noble of infringing on five patents and filed a complaint with the ITC. Microsoft is seeking the block of imports for the Nook e-book reader devices. Barnes & Noble made four letters and a presentation to the Justice Department public.

Microsoft said that they own patented inventions that are used in the Android operating system. Microsoft made patent royalty deals separately with Samsung and HTC, the two biggest manufacturing companies of Android-based phones.

“All modern operating systems include many patented technologies,” said Microsoft in a statement in regards to the Barnes & Noble issue. “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.”

Barnes & Noble sold $800 million worth of Nook readers in the 2011 fiscal year. The company forecasts those sales to double this year to $1.8 billion. This would amount to 24% of the company’s revenue. This case has been filed under “In the Matter of Certain Handheld Electronic Computing Devices, 337-769, U.S. International Trade Commission (Washington).”

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