Earlier this year, Microsoft continued its shakedown war against all things Android by suing Barnes & Noble
for patent infringement over the Nook. As we discussed, B&N is fighting back in a big way, claiming that Microsoft's shakedown tactics are an antitrust violation
. As that effort moves forward, it's beginning to reveal a ton of useful info. While Microsoft continues to try to keep the patents it's using in these shakedowns "secret," B&N has been revealing them
. Groklaw has the details:
The patents, we read, "cover only arbitrary, outmoded and non-essential design features" and yet Microsoft is demanding "prohibitively expensive licensing fees", in effect asserting "veto power" over Android's features. One aspect of the license, Barnes & Noble tells us, was a demand to control design elements, requiring designers to adhere to specific hardware and software specifications in order to obtain a license. That, Barnes & Noble says, is "oppressive and anticompetitive". I think it's accurate to say that the company believes it is illegal.
Barnes & Noble asserts that Microsoft is attempting "to use patents to drive open source software out of the market," saying it, in essence, is acting like a patent troll, threatening companies using Android with a destructive and anticompetitive choice: pay Microsoft exorbitant rates for patents, some trivial and others ridiculously invalid or clearly not infringed, or spend a fortune on litigation.
Beyond revealing more of the patents, the company, in its filings, makes it clear what it believes Microsoft is doing:
Instead of focusing on innovation and the development of new products for consumers, Microsoft has decided to invest its efforts into driving open source developers from the mobile operating systems market. Through the use of offensive licensing agreements and the demand for unreasonable licensing fees, Microsoft is hindering creativity in the mobile operating systems market.... Through the use of oppressive licensing terms that amount to a veto power over a wide variety of innovative features in Android devices of all kinds, as well as its prohibitively expensive licensing fees, Microsoft is attempting to push open source software developers out of the market altogether.
Seems like a pretty accurate summary from what we've seen. It's really pretty sad when the focus of your business is hindering others, rather than innovating yourself.