Microsoft targets Barnes & Noble nook in Android licensing war

Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) said the Android-powered Barnes & Noble nook e-reader infringes on a number of its patents, and as a result, the software giant said it filed a lawsuit against Barnes & Noble and the device's manufacturers, Foxconn and Inventec.

Horacio Gutierrez, Microsoft Corporate Vice President and Deputy General Counsel for Intellectual Property and Licensing, said the Android platform infringes a number of Microsoft's patents. As a result, he said, Microsoft established "an industry-wide patent licensing program for Android device manufacturers." Android smartphone maker HTC last year took a license under the program.

"We have tried for over a year to reach licensing agreements with Barnes & Noble, Foxconn and Inventec," Gutierrez said. "Their refusals to take licenses leave us no choice but to bring legal action to defend our innovations."

Representatives from Barnes & Noble declined to comment, citing company policy, according to Reuters, while those from Foxconn and Inventec were not immediately available for comment.

Microsoft said the patents at issue "cover a range of functionality embodied in Android devices that are essential to the user experience" and include the process of tabbing through various screens to find information as well as surfing the Web and interacting with documents and e-books. Microsoft previously announced a similar complaint against Android proponent Motorola (NYSE:MMI).

Microsoft's action against Barnes & Noble, announced in a press release that is likely intended as a warning against other Android vendors, stands as yet another lawsuit in an increasingly litigious industry. Other vendors caught up in patent disagreements include Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) and HTC and Nokia (NYSE:NOK) and Apple. Such legal disputes often revolve around the minutia in patent filings and circuitry, but can result in licensing agreements worth millions of dollars.

For more:
- see this release
- see this Reuters article

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Microsoft stings Motorola with suit over Android phones
HTC inks patent licensing deal with Microsoft for Android
HTC vows to fight Apple's patent suits
What the Apple/HTC lawsuit means for the future of mobile
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