Microsoft Sues Barnes & Noble Over Patent-Infringing Android Devices

If you thought the tax preparers were the only folks staying busy this time of year, you should reconsider. Microsoft's legal team has plenty on their plate of late. Just months after the company sued Motorola for infringing Microsoft's patents in select Android devices, the company is now going after even more manufacturers of Android products. It's hard to say if this is just leading up to one big showdown between Microsoft and Google, but for now it's Barnes & Noble, Foxconn and Inventec who need to sweat it.

Today, Microsoft published a press release stating that legal action had been taken against the three companies mentioned above for "patent infringement by their Android-based e-reader and tablet devices that are marketed under the Barnes & Noble brand."  Horacio Gutierrez, Corporate Vice President and Deputy General Counsel for Intellectual Property & Licensing, put it this way: "The Android platform infringes a number of Microsoft’s patents, and companies manufacturing and shipping Android devices must respect our intellectual property rights. To facilitate that we have established an industry-wide patent licensing program for Android device manufacturers."

Here's what's interesting. Look at that statement. It's really, really clear that Microsoft is upset with Android, not Barnes & Noble. So why not go after Google directly? Maybe because it's more profitable to do it this way. Microsoft is already receiving funds from HTC through a license program, and they're clearly trying to extract funds from B&N in a similar fashion. Apparently, Microsoft has "tried" for over a year to reach a deal, and now the decision has been made to throw down a lawsuit.

According to Microsoft, the patents at issue cover a range of functionality embodied in Android devices that are essential to the user experience, including: natural ways of interacting with devices by tabbing through various screens to find the information they need; surfing the Web more quickly, and interacting with documents and e-books.

The outcome should be quite interesting, and we're still curious to see if Microsoft ever goes after the root of their problem, Google. What company will fall victim to a lawsuit next? As always, only time will tell how it'll shake out.
Tags:  Android, Microsoft, nook