Microsoft, longtime champion of the patent trolling and extortion racket as a means to contribute to the world, attempted a bullshit money grab against Barnes and Noble on some Android patent bullshit with their Nook device. Seems Microsoft’s genius angle is not to directly target Google for whatever reason but going after companies getting involved with Android either to spook them from Android altogether or to gouge money out of them or just to be dicks because maybe it’s generally a good business strategy universally.

B&N regards the patents as “trivial, not infringed and invalid” and a vehicle for Microsoft and Nokia, now following in SCO’s footsteps, to attempt to crush Android while shaking down their partners. With the patent portfolios of the two companies combined and now apparently with the two colluding in the racket to use their portfolios both offensively and defensively, B&N states that this activity is “illegal under antitrust laws, threatens competition for mobile device operating systems and is further evidence of Microsoft’s efforts to dominate and control Android and other open source operating systems.”

What are the patents and do they have any merit or are they laughable bullshit? Good question, let me look that up.

  • Patent 5,778,372, “Remote retrieval and display management of electronic document with incorporated images.” In other words, Netscape Navigator, NCSA Mosaic.
  • Patent 6,339,780, “Loading status in a hypermedia browser having a limited available display area … During times when a browser is loading content, the browser displays a temporary, animated graphic element over the viewing area.” In other words, a progress bar. Okay, a progress bar – optimized for mobile. A fucking progress bar.
  • Patent 5,889,522, “System provided child window controls,” or popup dialogs.
  • Patent 6,891,551, “Selecting handles in editing electronic documents .. A computer system and method for highlighting .. select a larger or smaller portion of data or number of items,” or highlighting – which as we just learned Microsoft has been developing for its Windows Phone line to be released to all devices eventually perhaps but who cares. But seriously, highlighting? That’s why you’re threatening B&N to sign a non disclosure so you can threaten them more into just paying up whatever you want? Highlighting.
  • Patent 6,957,233, “A system and method for capturing annotations for a non-modifiable document,” or saving data to something writeable that is associated with something read-only. Prior art, fucking post it notes.

Wow. So they’ve got B&N pinned up against the wall with the web browser, highlighting, progress bar, windows and a method of saving data so sophisticated they should put the patent on everything we launch into space in case the aliens catch it and can see how awesome we are.

Read this, this is what Microsoft possesses the patent to and vigorously defends it as any other company would and even blogs about it: “Enable display of a webpage’s content before the background image is received, allowing users to interact with the page faster.” They actually have the patent on that. That’s their shit so back off.

This is called patent trolling people, I’m not alone in calling it sleazy extortion and I’m sorry to see Nokia becoming complicit in this activity and further dismayed to see that Microsoft may have been attracted to Nokia initially with this purpose brightly in mind and not just making and selling good phones together. What do you think the executives of the two companies involved in Nokia and Windows Phone have been focusing on more lately, turning Windows Phone into a success or offensive litigation tactics? I am not a lawyer but those patents sound absurd, Microsoft and Nokia are displaying the true colors of a legal predator we all could do without.

Here’s the formal complaint, here’s the response, which I’m sure are exciting reads but if you want something shorter, a few blurbs from B&N which I encourage you to believe and attempt to denounce as lies or come back at me with some bullshit about how Microsoft did their highlighting R&D and have every right to protect their intellectual property innovation and their progress bars because that is what this is about and nothing more – c’mon buddy.

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.

More copypasta! Too pissed for girly pictures this time, I’m sorry.

Microsoft has asserted patents that extend only to arbitrary, outmoded, or non-essential design features, but uses these patents to demand that every manufacturer of an Android-based mobile device take a license from Microsoft and pay exorbitant licensing fees or face protracted and expensive patent infringement litigation. The asserted patents do not have a lawful scope sufficient to control the Android Operating System as Microsoft is attempting to do, and Microsoft’s misuse of these patents directly harms both competition for and consumers of all eReaders, smartphones, tablet computers and other mobile electronic devices….

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. On information and belief, Microsoft intends to take and has taken definite steps towards making competing operating systems such as the Android Operating System unusable and unattractive to both consumers and device manufacturers through exorbitant license fees and absurd licensing restrictions that bear no relation to the scope and subject matter of its own patents….

On information and belief, as part of Microsoft’s recently announced agreement with Nokia to replace Nokia’s Symbian operating system with Microsoft’s own mobile device operating system, Microsoft and Nokia discussed and apparently agreed upon a strategy for coordinated offensive use of their patents. Indeed, in videotaped remarks made two days after the Microsoft-Nokia agreement was announced, Nokia’s CEO Stephen Elop confirmed that Microsoft and Nokia had discussed how their combined intellectual property portfolio is “remarkably strong” and that Microsoft and Nokia intended to use this combined portfolio both defensively and offensively. This type of horizontal agreement between holders of significant patent portfolios is per se illegal under the antitrust laws, threatens competition for mobile device operating systems and is further evidence of Microsoft’s efforts to dominate and control Android and other open source operating systems.

Microsoft, caught off guard like a bunch of bitches that the public is tuning into this case and seeing the other guy as the victim and hero instead of Microsoft (change of pace from just suing the Linux FOSS world but actually taking on the book people), assured the public:

[yada yada] .. we are doing what any other company in our situation would do.

Like hell you are you sons of bitches. Scumbag assholes. But hey, great to see Nokia getting the hang of how things are done in Redmond so quickly. I can start to understand why Bill Gates would give this up to go hand out mosquito nets and vaccines. Just has a less fucked up ring to it, you know? I bet he doesn’t even have to pressure the kids to sign NDAs before he protects them from polio.

Stay strong B&N, thanks for standing up to these bullies on behalf of yourselves and those for whom you may set a protective precedent if you fight this successfully. 

And you phone coders, this is not directed at you, just the suits who by the way can take their NDAs and shove it up their dirty asses.

Why the fuck don’t you just sue Google and get it over with you pussies (HD) if you believe in these patents? Why didn’t you chase down Motorola who, like B&N, told you what of theirs you should feel free to suck? Unless the patents are horseshit of course, in which case, fuck off and work on your fucking phones.

I hope Al Pacino crashes your next stupid bullshit conference and gives his flamethrower speech.

Doug Simmons

25 COMMENTS

  1. I see you haven’t changed one fucking bit. I don’t know whether you’ve figured this out, but Apple also has patent lawsuits out, and quite a few of them, against companies like HTC. Where’s the nasty article about them?

    Google doesn’t do it because they aren’t a software company, and have created very few technologies worth defending. But I’m not going to shit on them, Apple, or Microsoft for protecting what they see as theirs. It’s a part of the corporate world, and it’s nothing new.

  2. By the way, can you please write and cover technology like an adult, instead of a butthurt fanboy?

  3. Doug your a fucking loser……..how is microsoft bad for wanting compensation for there TECH?….should they just let Androd fag boys use what they want when they want and not pay?

    What a douche…..

  4. Another one I can’t figure out, why force companies who don’t choose to fight to sign an NDA?

    Personal question, have you even heard of the doctrine of patent misuse?

    Joe: Pointing fingers at who’s butthurt seems premature given that the fight’s still warming up. B&N is taking an affirmative defense in this, five sets of them, including asserting that Microsoft intentionally and deceptively failed to disclose prior art to the patent office. That there’s prior art to begin with is an issue, that there may be impropriety to boot and that B&N seems to think they can prove this, if they succeed, I look forward to rubbing your nose in that while giving you the opportunity to call me butthurt again.

    What does Apple have to do with this?

  5. What does Apple have to do with this?

    Nothing, other than that the lawyers use iPads and not Windows Phones. Guaranteed.

    Right Joe?

  6. Two corporates are trying to protect their interests and that of their share-holders in the manner they deem fit. Last time I checked, they hadn’t given any of us the right to judge them for their actions. Almost all of us, some even vociferously, have deep biases which unfairly colour our ‘judgement’ and sense of propriety and hence we tend to be unfair to one party or the other. We must therefore refrain from trial-by-media. Its the job of the judges and we should leave it to that.

    ‘Our’ beloved HTC (of the Nexus One fame) and Samsung (ditto Nexus S) and others have in the past seen it prudent to agree to probably the same stringent, arbitrary, outmoded, non-essential and exorbitant terms with Microsoft. Question is – Were they wrong or did they recapitulate meekly even when they were wise enough to fight other patent issues? Now B&N have decided to ‘positively assert’ themselves. Time and the judges will tell if their efforts bear fruit or it is reduced to an exercise in writing imaginative prose.

    I am not sure, but I think the reason Microsoft cannot sue google over android is that google doesn’t sell android for any material gain.

    Some of the language seen on these pages these days is repulsive even by the standards of overgrown kids in downtown Bronx of the 70’s. Quite the contrary is true about the pictures though.

  7. Microsoft and Apple don’t sue Google because it doesn’t make any sense to do so. Google doesn’t have lots of patents, so there’s no cross-licensing potential. Google doesn’t sell phones and will resist paying licensing fees to death. Also, receiving those licensing fees isn’t anywhere close in terms of effect as receiving royalties from every Android device sold.

    The patents in question do look stupid though.

  8. @vangrieg: but remember the Netscape-IE lawsuits in the 90s? Those were related to business practices and not patent infringement, but it came down to software. Why would Msft not sue Google if it could result in kiboshing Android? My guess is that this is a calculated strategy. By suing the 3rd party enablers of the Android ecosystem, they want to triangulate Google.

  9. Wow, I have been reading this blog for a while and have been watching it take a nose dive off the cliff, but this is pathetic. Doug, you have gone completely mental and made this blog your own fanboy soap box. Rather than have a honest and intelligent discussion, you prefer to take the low road. Believe me when I say this, crap like this is not worth anyone’s time. So long and I hope you enjoy listening to yourself since no one else will.

  10. Who cares its B&N. Does anybody even give a shit about the Nook? B&N is a failing business. Hey doug next time you could do an article on patent trolling in general instead of bashing 1 of about a billion tech companies that do this.

  11. Donald: Point taken. But this piqued my interest because I did not know that this is how the world works, businesses suing each other left and right to the point that it’s hard to distinguish who’s the net bully, as you said nor was I aware that B&N was fighting back and reading what they allege, the thought of there being any merit to any of it, I found it ugly and disturbing. Especially intentionally defrauding the government, that part stuck out, stunned that that might be true. What can I say, that just seems flagrant and indefensible to me. Also if they fight this case to the end, strikes me as an important precedent that could affect more companies than just the book people.

    And hey, if it’s revealed that B&N’s case is bullshit and that these patents are legit, and if anything’s questionable about the patents then the patent office should be blamed and not Microsoft, I’ll be the first to admit it and acknowledge that I’m no good, something to that effect.

    Before I hit the button on this thing I did a reasonable amount of homework including reading up on the patents and the legal documents, which weren’t short, if that’s of any worth to you. And if this is of any worth too I didn’t make this about Windows Phone and the phone guys. I tried the phone, going to continue using it in just a moment first to see if it got pinged overnight for some update, I liked it and I posted about how I liked it. And conversely, that article was not about the suits of Microsoft other than a remark that it’s a shame that they fucked up and dropped the ball on a quality piece of work from their phone guys which I think most of you agree with and have bashed the company in a similar fashion.

    Finally, when I lay down some nutty vitriolic opinion thing, the comments on such a thread that clash with what I write read about as loudly if not more to what I write, we hedge each other, and that’s a beautiful thing.

    I don’t purport to know more about life and business than you people, I just have more RSS feeds flowing probably and, more importantly since this is a “digest” site which I take to mean editorial content, also I am more inclined than you are to waste my time ranting on some blog when I get a little fire in my belly as I did here. From time to time it’s helpful or amusing, often it’s neither. Wish some of you would join me, especially those of you who tend to disagree with me and further especially if it’s gotten personal (Joe). I wasn’t kidding Joe when I made that offer.

    yss: I get worked up all the time, you know that. Just experimenting more heavily with profanity.

  12. Hey not to change the subject but my loaner Surround’s been on since I got it and connected through wifi but I don’t see any sign of it having been pinged by Microsoft to prompt me to plug it in to update nor is it reporting any updates when I hit phone update.

    Any chance that’s because I don’t have a live at&t sim in it?

  13. @Doug Simmons, sometimes you just need to wait, updates don’t go to all phones simultaneously. There are ways to force an update but since it’s not your phone you probably shouldn’t mess with those…

  14. Well I’m just curious not to feel the power of the update (certainly not going to mess with a phone in that way that someone let me borrow) or see how long this takes to bitch about, just curious if my not being connected to AT&T’s network as a paying customer, rather just on wifi, precludes me from getting tapped with a prompt.

    Whatever, not important, time to surrender the phone.

  15. All companies do it. May not be a big deal but back in the day those features were revolutionary. If someone invents it and others make a profit on it then they should pay the inventor.

  16. I’m not sure how it’s a revolutionary invention at any point in time to design your browser not to delay rendering text it has already downloaded until it has finished downloading the background image. To me that sounds like common sense, the kind of thing you’d have to go out of your way to program not to happen. And can you really fault a developer for spending half the time coming up with new patents to file for to defend against such nonsense?

    I’m trying to come up with a metaphor, maybe a simile, to illustrate how amazingly ludicrous that is, that someone would both file for and be granted a patent for that. I can’t do it. Oh what, is that a bad example of a patent that is exceptionally absurd?

    Wasn’t aware all companies did it. I mean, I am aware Google has been sucked into this arms race of waste, but I did not know they had any history of being on the offensive.

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