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B&N Not Bending Over for Microsoft & Nokia

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