Microsoft Continues Its Backdoor Legal Fight Against Android: Sues Barnes & Noble Over Nook

from the fight-fight-fight dept

Microsoft has been tiptoeing around its claims that Android violates certain Microsoft patents, carefully choosing who to sue. For example, it's sued Motorola, but hasn't sued Google. The latest is that it's suing Barnes & Noble for infringing on its patents, claiming that the Nook ebook reader, which uses Android, violates its patents. The patents in question all seem to cover astoundingly obvious concepts that Microsoft should be ashamed to hold patents on and be asserting:
  • System provided child window controls: 5,889,522
  • Remote retrieval and display management of electronic document with incorporated images: 5,778,372
  • Loading status in a hypermedia browser having a limited available display area: 6,339,780
  • Selection handles in editing electronic documents: 6,891,551
  • Method and apparatus for capturing and rendering annotations for non-modifiable electronic content: 6,957,233
It's always sad when companies focus more on litigating rather than innovating. I mean, seriously, does anyone think that, without patents, people wouldn't have made these kinds of advancements? These aren't advancements that requires a patent at all. These are the kinds of advancements that happen naturally in the marketplace due to competition and multiple companies competing to offer a better product to customers.

Of course, it's nice to see the response on Microsoft's own blog involves comments trashing Microsoft for this decision. Scrolling down the comments, almost all of them are incredibly negative against Microsoft, pointing out that these patents are obvious, that Microsoft should be ashamed of itself for suing, and people swearing off Microsoft products for being a patent bully. Perhaps Microsoft might want to think its patent litigation strategy in recognizing that it's not particularly well received by consumers.

The comments really are great, but my favorite may be: "None of this BS will get anyone to buy a Windows phone anyway." And that's kind of the point. Microsoft should focus on innovating. Not bitching about what competitors are doing better than it did.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 22nd, 2011 @ 6:28am

    "... Microsoft should be ashamed ..."
    being ashamed (or not) isn't a feature of any business model I'm familiar with - and I have read a certain amount of blogger clap-trap about business models !.

     

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  2.  
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    John Doe, Mar 22nd, 2011 @ 6:30am

    Compete in the market, not the courts...

    I would love to see into an alternate universe where companies concentrated on building the best possible product to compete in the marketplace rather than the courts. Just think where technology might be if it was unhindered by patents? We would probably have smartphones that could do everything including cook breakfast. Hmmm, bacon....

     

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  3.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 22nd, 2011 @ 6:31am

    So MS wants a little backdoor action from Android? Sounds dirty.

     

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  4.  
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    robin, Mar 22nd, 2011 @ 6:34am

    we can't so you can't

    Selection handles in editing electronic documents:


    what's just funny is that winmo7 can't select text, yet they're suing others that can.

     

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  5.  
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    John Doe, Mar 22nd, 2011 @ 6:47am

    Re: Compete in the market, not the courts...

    Seriously though, it is hard to feel sorry for Microsoft. They have had the technology to rule the internet, mobile phones and other devices along with a host of other areas but they always get caught napping. They had a smartphone before smartphones were cool and let it just languish away. They have the best Office tools around and could have created a killer web version to compete with Google docs and let it languish. They are like the RIAA, MPAA, publishers, etc where they can't see past the current cash cow to the next cash cow.

     

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  6.  
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    Andy (profile), Mar 22nd, 2011 @ 7:00am

    One of those comments in favour

    I had to laugh. A quick scan of the comments on that blog only turned up one that I could spot supporting Microsoft. Someone calling himself QA trying to point out that this is how the patent system works. It's all beyond laughable and one has to hope that this backfiring PR effort might give Microsoft pause for thought.

    I particularly liked where one commenter highlighted a comment that MS is doing this for its customers and asked that he (as a customer) not be included.

    If this were not so incredibly sad, it would be hilarious. Who can really take big companies like this seriously when they act like petulant children?

     

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  7.  
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    velox (profile), Mar 22nd, 2011 @ 7:11am

    Next up, MS is going to sue over the ability to...breathe

    MG Siegler has more withering criticism of Microsoft's lawsuit over at TechCrunch.
    Its all about trying to use patent licensing to take some of the profit from someone else's product by making ridiculous claims of innovation where clearly Microsoft didn't invent anything.
    To quote Siegler: "Next up, Microsoft is going to sue over the ability to type, look, and maybe even breathe."

     

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  8.  
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    DannyB (profile), Mar 22nd, 2011 @ 7:20am

    Re: Re: Compete in the market, not the courts...

    Microsoft may have had the technology to rule the Internet but what happened is this.

    The Web browser made the Internet a household word. It was happening on Macintosh. Bill Gates said the Internet was "just a fad". In 1995, Microsoft woke up and smelled the Internet. They were being left in the dust. They discovered the Internet and got religion.

    They didn't have a web browser. So they bought SpyGlass for $150,000 up front plus a royalty percent of profits. Microsoft then renamed SpyGlass to Internet Explorer and never sold a single copy.

    In order to turn the Internet into the Microsoft Internet, they needed to woo developers to only write for Internet Explorer. Put sweet and addictive features in like a drug. So Microsoft invested $150 Million (according to DOJ v Microsoft documents) in developing MS IE (a product they never sold a single copy of!). Why invest so much in a product that brings in no revenue? To preserve the, and create a new monopoly.

    IE, IIS and FrontPage were all designed to "microsoftize" the Web. Other platforms need not apply.

    Microsoft recognized, correctly, that the browser provided a platform for building applications that (at the workstation) are zero-install and zero-maintenance, and cross-platform.

    While they managed to delay that inevitable outcome, it is now happening today. Web applications are everywhere. Web standardization is a reality, and IE 6 and even IE 7 is the bane of web developers everywhere -- and universally recognized as such.

    So as far back as 1995, Microsoft had lost any semblance of innovation. It is a company with a history of doing very little innovation. Almost everything was a late "me too" copy of someone else's work, or acquisition of someone else's work.

    Oh, I know their R&D labs show some impressive demos from time to time, but precious little of it ever makes it to market.

    Microsoft tried to sell a tablet for a decade. Apple came along and instantly redefined a tablet as something that doesn't run Windows and has a UI adapted to tables instead of a UI adapted to a mouse.

     

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  9.  
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    CSMcDonald (profile), Mar 22nd, 2011 @ 7:20am

    Don't these look like the kind of patents they argue should be easier to invalidate in the i4i case?

     

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  10.  
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    Overcast (profile), Mar 22nd, 2011 @ 7:26am

    Funny to see a company that got it's start directly due to piracy - sue for patent infringement.

    The last one..

    "Method and apparatus for capturing and rendering annotations for non-modifiable electronic content"

    Adobe PDF's have had that capability for years. That's nothing even close to new.

     

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  11.  
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    John Doe, Mar 22nd, 2011 @ 7:31am

    Re: Re: Re: Compete in the market, not the courts...

    As a IT professional for the last 20 years I have to agree with everything you said. Back around 1996, Microsoft was saying that the browser could become the OS. Here we are 15 years later and it is happening, yet MS did nothing but fight it. They had a Win Mobile phone before he iPhone came out. They have the Surface coffee table "tablet" too. So I would say they do have some vision but they can't execute on them. It really boils down to what Mike says here all the time, it isn't the idea but the execution. I would add that patents only serve to reverse this equation which is a bad thing for everyone involved.

     

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  12.  
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    Overcast (profile), Mar 22nd, 2011 @ 7:36am

    In order to turn the Internet into the Microsoft Internet, they needed to woo developers to only write for Internet Explorer. Put sweet and addictive features in like a drug. So Microsoft invested $150 Million (according to DOJ v Microsoft documents) in developing MS IE (a product they never sold a single copy of!). Why invest so much in a product that brings in no revenue? To preserve the, and create a new monopoly.

    IE, IIS and FrontPage were all designed to "microsoftize" the Web. Other platforms need not apply.


    Yes, and today - at least in the IT circles I know of.. Firefox is easily the most popular browser. I still have more issues with IE than Firefox for certain. Not that I have many with either, but Firefox doesn't 'hang' like IE will at times and it's just more compatible overall.

    I don't know how often various pages won't work due to the version of IE being too old, etc. M$ loves to pop out new versions, but I can't say it's a good idea all the time.

    They would be better off to make larger, more measured steps.

    If not for gaming, I'd use Linux exclusively - just due to the cost of Windows OS's.

     

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  13.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 22nd, 2011 @ 7:47am

    Re: Re: Re: Compete in the market, not the courts...

    Web standardization is a reality, and IE 6 and even IE 7 is the bane of web developers everywhere -- and universally recognized as such.

    I always laugh at this idea. Most people block javascript. I personally block CSS as well. When web developers cry over their site not looking 100% the same for everyone, their tears are sweet nectar to me.
    I especially love when you guys write a script that (tries) to pop up a message saying to get a better browser. It's just so precious. :3

     

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  14.  
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    PRMan, Mar 22nd, 2011 @ 7:53am

    Re: Re: Re: Compete in the market, not the courts...

    Actually, Microsoft did sell Internet Explorer for a couple years and Spyglass did make money from it. But after a while, it became clear that few people were interested in buying a browser when Netscape was free.

     

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  15.  
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    ts, Mar 22nd, 2011 @ 8:04am

    I wonder if there are any college programming textbooks that teach how to do something that "infringes" on any of these (or Apple's) ridiculous patents. I'd bet there are plenty of examples.

    If Microsoft can prove that actual code was ripped of, then I would understand. But that is not the case, and never has been the case with any of their patent lawsuits. So basically two companies can have the same idea, and execute it in two completely different ways... and that's not alright? I don't get it.

     

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  16.  
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    techflaws.org (profile), Mar 22nd, 2011 @ 8:14am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Compete in the market, not the courts...

    "It's just so precious"

    As are weirdos like you. Why not surf with Lynx, then?

     

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  17.  
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    Chris-Mouse (profile), Mar 22nd, 2011 @ 8:17am

    Re: Compete in the market, not the courts...

    I would so love to have a smartphone with a cereal interface.

    sorry, I just couldn't resist.

     

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  18.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 22nd, 2011 @ 8:21am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Compete in the market, not the courts...

     

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  19.  
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    Jimr (profile), Mar 22nd, 2011 @ 8:23am

    Those that can... Do. Those that can't... litigate.

    I guess since MS can not be innovate enough to attract customers then they are only left with one course of action... litigate. This is the mental attitude of a small spoiled child - if I can not have it then no one shall. Guess how that works out. With this type of litigation attitude they will will fade into oblivion and be forgot.

     

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  20.  
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    John Doe, Mar 22nd, 2011 @ 8:25am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Compete in the market, not the courts...

    Just curios, by why disable CSS? Or even JS for that matter? Pages are all CSS these days so viewing without it would seem to provide a poor experience. I will have to try it sometime to see for myself.

     

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  21.  
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    Joe, Mar 22nd, 2011 @ 8:42am

    Is MS Dying?

    Great article written in 2005 but very relevant today :)

    Enjoy!
    http://abcnews.go.com/Business/SiliconInsider/story?id=508399&page=1

     

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  22.  
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    Jose_X, Mar 22nd, 2011 @ 8:51am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Compete in the market, not the courts...

    Microsoft's entire business model for decades has been based on monopolies.

    They choke off competitors whom they can then buy for cheap.. or lure partners with the promise not to use the monopoly against them and instead use it to help them.

    As concerns patents, we have this from the ffii http://eupat.ffii.org/archiv/cusku/#bgates91

    > The text is from an internal memo written by Bill Gates to his staff. Part of has appeared in another Gates memos.
    "If people had understood how patents would be granted when most of today's ideas were invented and had taken out patents, the industry would be at a complete standstill today.

    Then continues on what Microsoft's strategy should be moving forward:

    > "The solution is patenting as much as we can. A future startup with no patents of its own will be forced to pay whatever price the giants choose to impose. That price might be high. Established companies have an interest in excluding future competitors."

    Since then Microsoft and Microsoft owners/managers have been investing heavily in patents and patent trolls. [particularly software, but also many bio patents]

    In case we had doubt, we get it straight from the mouth of one of the most successful businessmen around, who also happens to be an expert at leveraging monopolies to stifle competitors.

    So ask me if I feel sorry for Microsoft?

    How about feeling sorry for all the people that competed and played fairly? How about for open source developers who contribute their copyrights to society yet have to deal with unethical and unconstitutional software patents being used to stifle them and neuter their contributions to society/progress?

    Microsoft is going after the easiest money they can, avoiding the courtroom. Fighting Google in court (Google leveraging and contributing to open source software) is not easy money.

     

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  23.  
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    HothMonster, Mar 22nd, 2011 @ 9:19am

    Remember Google OS isn't free. Sure google doesnt charge for it but you gotta pay microsoft.

    http://techcrunch.com/2010/10/03/android-isnt-free/

     

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  24.  
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    Will Sizemore (profile), Mar 22nd, 2011 @ 9:23am

    I think the easiest way to dumb this argument down is as follows.

    Jimmy: "Nuh uUUuHHH. I called it first."
    Timmy: "But you did it wrong and I did it better."
    Jimmy: "Doesn't matter, I called first. See? I already saidthat and you're not listening. I'm telling the babysitter!"
    Timmy: "Go ahead. You're just gonna make a fool of yourself."

    A few minutes later.

    Jimmy: "Um... Remember when Timmy and I were playing ball outside? It was my idea to play ball, and it was my idea to throw it through the hoop, but Timmy took my ball and put it through the hoop first and that's not fair."

    Babysitter: "So did you put the ball in the hoop?"
    Jimmy: "Not yet, but if I practice real hard and you make sure that Timmy can't do it until I do it real good, I might have a better chance to do it better and you can really encourage me if you not only make Timmy stand in the corner until I'm done, but if he tries to do it later, he has to give me his snacks after lunch too."
    Babysitter: Blinks and ponders whether Jimmy is serious.
    Timmy: Puts another three balls through three hoops and cheers, "SWISH!"
    Babysitter: "GOOOooo Timmy!"
    Jimmy: Stomps off into the other room muttering, "But I did it FIIIiiiirst!"

    I hope this entertaining little dialog accurately shows just how juvenile it is to claim patent infringements. The entire US Patent System should be thrown out. We've see too many arguments here, GOOD ARGUMENTS, that it is not only flawed, but self defeating. If I were to take a patent out on drinking water through a glass, then people would be forced to think of other ways to drink water, right? But what about a cup or a bottle? What about a bowl? A garden hose? A fountain? A can?

    Fortunately, that all seems too absurd to happen, but that's effectively what did happen. In addition, the supposedly learned people who approved such litigation knew as much about technology as my best friend's dad when we were kids.
    Stepdad: "Chris, I told you to take out the trash."
    Chris: "In a minute, Dad, I want to finish this level."
    Stepdad: Turns off the TV, "No, I said now!"
    Chris: Pauses the game, "Dad, I told you, simply turning off the TV doesn't turn off my game console."

    Later:
    Chris: "Dad, do you want me to hook up the VCR to the living room TV so we can all watch the movie?"
    Stepdad: "No, I don't want you to mess up the TV."
    Me: "It won't mess it up. We've done this hundreds of times, at my house, here, at Phil's house, my aunt's house. Its just a simple coaxial connection.
    Chris: Turns off the TV and the cable box, then unscrews the cable box from the TV.
    Stepdad: Wonders what else is on and picks up the remote, turning on the TV. The TV displays static and plays loud noise. "SEEEE? You broke my TV!"
    Me: Plugs the Cable box into the VCR then the VCR into the TV and picture and sound is restored.
    Stepdad: "Chris, get away from the TV and let Will do it. He knows what he's doing."
    Me: "Ummm, Ron, you know Chris is the one who showed me how to do this, right?"
    Stepdad: "It doesn't matter, get out of the way; the game is back on.
    Chris and me: "Game? You wanted to watch the movie?!?!?!
    Stepdad: "Move the VCR back into my bedroom and you guys can watch it in there."

    Now that I'm the same age that Chris' stepdad was then, I can see the humor in all this and I wondered for a moment whether he knew what we were doing and he was just playing stupid, but he did this stuff for YEARS while we were growing up. When I think of the judges who rule on the side of so-called patent holders, thus STIFLING the innovation of others with broad rulings on broad concepts, I think of these stories. Its either that, or they have stock in the companies they side with.

     

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  25.  
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    Mike42 (profile), Mar 22nd, 2011 @ 9:43am

    Re: Re: Re: Compete in the market, not the courts...

    A pretty analysis, but wrong on several counts.

    Point #1: is that there is something "magical" about being innovative. Microsoft was never innovative. Microsoft copied/bought innovative solutions once they worked, and then made them even simpler to impliment and use. In other words, they executed the solution better than before. Works for me, and there are several articles here on Techdirt explaining why copying makes more sense than innovating (on the whole). I find this "innovation is King" argument so utterly lacking that it makes it difficult to take anyone presenting it seriously.

    Point #2, Microsoft would only run IE/IIS/Frontpage. Silly. Apache runs on Windows boxes no problem, along with many other web servers. Also, Frontpage was out of the picture by 1998. It was actually IE/IIS/Interdev, and Interdev became the web portion of Visual Studio. And what was the thing tying IE/IIS/Interdev? Visual Basic, which powered ASP pages, and could even be run as a scripting language in IE. So what did lazy developers do? Write all their scripts in Visual Basic, which no other browsers could process. After all, why learn Javascript for an intranet app?

    Point #3: Microsoft tried to sell a tablet for a decade. Apple came along and instantly redefined a tablet as something that doesn't run Windows and has a UI adapted to tables instead of a UI adapted to a mouse.

    Microsoft tried to sell a tablet operating system based on pen input, which was a bad idea they called ink. Annoying to code around, so very little development was done to support it. Apple, on the other hand, figured out that people wanted a bigger screen on their IPhone, and created the IPad. The two are only related by form factor.

    What is really killing Microsoft now is the fact that they are listening to criticism like yours, DannyB. They need to be supporting their core users and developers, and giving us the documentation and features that we want and need on the desktop. Instead, they are wasting their resources on cloud computing and "cutting edge" technologies, rather than nailing down their core operations.

    I've been a corporate developer since '98, and been using Microsoft technologies since '87. I've written desktop, intranet and internet apps. Linux was a toy to me in '90. I'm now beginning to code for it. Why? Because Firefox runs just as well in Ubuntu as it does in Windows 7, and Microsoft is putting all their effort into the web. Why bother writing for the Microsoft platform if they aren't even going to bother to support it? Microsoft could compete with free. They have just chosen not to.

     

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  26.  
    identicon
    Howard the Duck, Mar 22nd, 2011 @ 10:01am

    Re: Re: Re: Compete in the market, not the courts...

    X-Box?

     

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  27.  
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    JEDIDIAH, Mar 22nd, 2011 @ 3:46pm

    Better to be weird.

    Better to be considered "weird" than infected.

    Although most people will wallow in a latrine and be blissfully unaware of that fact.

    The amount of script crap that's on the average website is mind boggling. It's little wonder that people running Windows and Explorer have so much trouble with malware. The scripts running on a modern web page are like a 70s swingers club.

     

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  28.  
    identicon
    George Brbilis, Mar 22nd, 2011 @ 4:21pm

    Re: we can't so you can't

    well the WP7 NoDo update is being released today with Select/Copy-Paste for text

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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