Microsoft and Barnes & Noble are dueling it out over B&Ns Nook reader which runs on Android OS. Microsoft alleges that the Nook infringes on multiple MS patents for things ranging from “tabbing through content” to “document interaction and web surfing”. Microsoft expert Mary-Jo Foley asserts that this is a part of a larger strategy to combat Googles rising market share in the OS market. MS essentially attempted to extort exorbitant royalties from BN for the various infringing features or else face massive lawsuits.
Mike Ros at Buisness Insider points out “Android includes Linux at its core, and Microsoft established years ago that it thinks Linux infringes its patents. (That claim never been tested in court, but tons of Linux distributors have signed licensing deals anyway — which boosts Microsoft’s future claims.) Last year Microsoft began trying to strike deals with Android smartphone makers. HTC signed a deal. Motorola didn’t, and Microsoft sued.” In effect allowing MS to profit from Android’s success.
Is this a misuse of Patent Law? Are they getting a bad rap and in fact they did innovate these features and deserve to be rightfully compensated (ie create an alternate revenue stream)? Or is Microsoft evolving to the next stage in it’s trajectory toward being the panultimate, anti-competitive patent troll?
It has been suggested that the recent House approval of the American Invents bill will generate jobs, and patent reform is a crucial part of economic recovery. The money collected by the Patent Office will be retained by the organization and allow them to expand and more quickly process patent applications. In a way this aspect of the reform does very little to address the bloody tech-giant patent wars, and in fact adopts a similar strategy to microsoft. The alternate revenue stream: Funds generated via the problematic infrastructure of our current patent system.