Microsoft just fired another shot at Android, this time aiming at Barnes & Noble and various other companies associated in the manufacturing of the Nook Color such as Foxconn and Inventec. The lawsuit filed against Barnes & Noble, Foxconn and Inventec states Microsoft owns several patents that according to Microsoft, are violated within the Android OS and as such they want profits off those patents or they'll take you to court.

“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,” said Horacio Gutierrez, Corporate Vice President and Deputy General Counsel for Intellectual Property & Licensing. “HTC, a market leader in Android smartphones, has taken a license under this program. We have tried for over a year to reach licensing agreements with Barnes & Noble, Foxconn and Inventec. Their refusals to take licenses leave us no choice but to bring legal action to defend our innovations and fulfill our responsibility to our customers, partners, and shareholders to safeguard the billions of dollars we invest each year to bring great software products and services to market,” he added.

The issue at hand here for Microsoft stems from a patent claiming Android uses "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." -- Broad scope really but that is how patents work for better or worse.

As noted in the information, Microsoft claims they attempted to reach a valid agreement for the past year but Barnes & Noble, Foxconn and Inventec have refused to accept the licensing conditions and as such, Microsoft will invoke their rights to sue. What do you all think, some bitterness there or is Microsoft just protecting what is rightfully theirs? Sound off in the comments, folks. [Microsoft]

There are 32 comments

Baconator says:

Stop crying Microsoft because no one uses Windows phones.

fillossofer says:

Funny that at the top of the page on there is a link to "get Silverlight", Microsoft's obvious plagerism of Flash. Microsoft has been infringing on others' patents forever. I take this as a sign that innovation has all but ceased at Microsoft.

ScottJ says:

"I take this as a sign that innovation has all but ceased at Microsoft."

When did it ever start?

fillossofer says:

You're right, I meant to say imitating has all but stopped.

echto says:

Every car has a steering wheel that lets you turn left and right.

goblueboy says:

lol @ hypocrisy of microsoft

jediman says:

Can't wait for the judge to tell microsoft off on this case.

sookster54 says:

So... basically, Microsoft is hurting for money?

schmagoogly says:

"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."

I don't know a computer device that doesn't behave this way. Smartphones, multimedia devices, tablet PCs, don't they all behave this way nowadays?

ScottJ says:

The irony is Microsoft was on the other end of a similar lawsuit in the 80's, except it was Apple saying that Microsoft stole their interface. Microsoft, correctly, won that case by arguing that the GUI and elements of it (windows, buttons, trash can) are a natural evolution of computer interaction and thus should not be patentable. It looks like they created an overly broad "shield" patent and are absurdly trying to do to B&N and others what Apple unsuccessfully tried to do to them in the 80's.

Oh, the irony.

ChrisFricke says:

This kind of situation is exactly why most software based patents need to die. At the very least all new and existing software patents need to be vetted by a panel of software and technology experts (that actually understand how code works).

Companies spend millions to collect millions from each other and the whole industry is a convoluted cobweb of ridiculous payments back and forth for patents on general descriptions of use or commonly used expressions. Oversimplification by a bit, sure, but imagine if IBM had put a patent on if, else, endif type expressions back in the 70's or 80's. Some of these patents are very nearly that ludicrous.

While it has been a long time since I looked at patent law, I had thought that one class of the things that COULDN'T be patented were "natural" expressions of interaction. In fact, MS had a "patent" on using "windows" which it tried to enforce on others and, if I remember correctly, was found to be unenforceable because it wasn't materially different than papers spread out on a (physical) desktop.

Next, someone will be trying to enforce a patent on "touching" a screen to interact with a computer. I remember when I first started doing PC support (about 25 years ago, just after Windows 3.11 was released). I was called to someone's desk because their new PC wasn't working. I had tried to work out the problem over the phone, but they said they couldn't get anything to happen "on the screen". I told them to select the start button and..., but they said nothing was happening. I told them I'd be right there.

When I showed up, I asked the employee to try it again at which point they began angrily tapping the screen and told me that their computer was broken because they couldn't "select" the start button. I was speechless and told them I'd be right back and left before I busted out laughing... True story.

Anyway, I, personally, think that any reasonable person (judge?) would realize this is extortion on an unenforceable patent and dismiss the case. I also notice that MS conveniently waited until Android had attained a dominant position before they sprung their patent on smaller product suppliers.

Finally, why aren't they going after Apple or even Google on this (i.e. the interface creators) since iOS uses the same interface characteristics that are supposedly covered by this patent rather than minor players (asked rhetorically)? Oh, because they don't have either the experience or deep pockets to fight the suit. Silly me. UGH!

_Zguy__ says:

whats the next patent infringement on
"using words as a way to identify programs and options"
"using shades of color to differentiate between items"W4

dougandmegan says:

This is horrifically sad. Microsoft has created a great phone software. In some ways it is better than Android, but the problem is Microsoft (just like Apple) will change slowly while Android changes and improves quickly. This case should be thrown out.

Microsoft had no problem copying the multi-tasking functionality of WebOS that nobody has been able to beat. Maybe HP should sue them.

randyrkelly says:

Stop crying Micro! Hell look how much you done took from linux. MMM Oh wow. Did I say that.(as i pan 2 windows side by side on WIN7) well u just need to get off of Andy's ___________________________________ 0_o

nttdemented says:


Note to self:

1. Create patent for "Interface that uses one or more fingers to navigate a graphical user interface by means of touch."
2. Lay low and wait a few years while saving up some cash for lawyers.
3. Sue everyone for profit.
4. Move to the Cayman islands and retire.

Like a boss!

dacp283 says:

Zguy careful man you might give someone ideas lol. This patent law crap is completely ridiculous and is in desperate need of an overhaul. I can understand a patent on a specific list of code but come on being something this vague is absurd. The laws need to adapt to cover technology patents that are beyond basic. Hell if they can do it I'm gonna patent a shape/color combination and make millions.

caliskimmer says:

I really hate these minor software patents. I'm sorry Microsoft, just leave. Android did something right and you didn't act on it. Your loss: get over it and use your billions for donating to the poor or to fix your own software and hardware issues instead of lawsuits.

Android FTW

jg274105 says:

hrmmm... Can I patent "using a combination of numbers, letters and/or symbols in combination with a personal identifier to authenticate identity," cause you know... that would rule all. I think 99% of sites on the internet infringe on that one.

I however authorize AC to use my patent.

Actually, I think that something basically like that WAS patented, but the patent expired before it became common use.

StoneRyno says:

Seems to me this is one of those things that should never have been a patent in the first place. And I think the patent office should revoke the patent due to it's all encompassing nature. Patents are supposed to be for relatively unique things. For example light bulb patents. Because it is a bulb that produces light doesn't mean everyone who ever made a bulb that produced light had to pay fees to Edison and the 22 other inventors before him who first made them. This is because each bulb has/had a unique variation on the basic concept. Thus why most if not all light bulbs have a patent number or pending patent.

The same applies with visual interface technology. The basic concept common to everyone is the screens (windows, cards, or other metaphor) and moving between them (tabbing, swiping, tapping, clicking etc). The uniqueness is how each individual system builds around the basic concepts. Otherwise like the previous commenter mentioned about apple and microsoft back in the day if this is an enforceable thing then microsoft would have had to pay out to apple. The problem is the patent office needs to nullify overly broad patents and not issue new overly broad patents since they are supposed to be a uniquely specific thing as per the light bulb example.

What cowards. They don't want to take on Google, so they do end runs around by going after distributors. I detest tactical lawsuits, and hate that they've become such a part of doing business.

xsfspeed says:

Soon they will patent "breathing in air" and we we will all end up in court unless we pay them for their "intellectual property". Yet another reason to keep supporting Google & Android! Bring on Chrome OS!

PensHockey says:

I got the . in www.

GalaxyNole says:

Funny, didn't Microsuck steal Google's search results to use with that pile of steaming dog doo they call Bing?

ddroid94 says:

This is completely ridiculous, they must be jealous that android is out selling them.

GensBB says:

Thank God for Linux! I have NO WinBlows software in my house, period. I refuse to allow my money to benefit M$ in any way. There just pissed 'cause there phone is a major FAIL!
PS: AC...get rid of that damn CAPTCHA!

HTC might have only licensed with microsoft to sell windows phones, and android related licensing could've just fallen into that agreement. Not necessarily licensing something exclusively concerning android devices.

Microsoft is just upset they're no longer the big shark in the sea (android). Instead, they'll try to be a parasite and feed off the shark.

no one likes your terrible phones microsoft. ooh, and coming soon! copy and paste! boy, where'd we here that one before. sounds like apple should sue microsoft for ridiculous roll out behaviors.

FatMikeNJ says:

Yeh dude.. i agree... HTC puts out w7 phones so they may avoid Microsoft's bullshit.

Remember they're sueing MOTO.

TheANARCHY says:

Its time for M$ to leave the consumer market as many analysts have suggested. The windows phones are not catching on with consumers or carriers, hence the sudden price drops across the board. Zune was a dismal failure. The traditional desktop pc is slowly dying with consumers because of tablets like the iPad & Android, & Redmond has no options in this new consumer space. Time to focus on enterprise customers only & get out of the consumer space where you keep calling behind. It seems in the tenure of Ballmer M$ makes headlines thru legal action. By the way... Notice I didn't mention XBOX? M$ got this right for the most part, other than the shoddy hardware. Spin this off independantly & let it sink our swim on its own. The M$ name is causing more harm than good.

What is particularly ironic is that MS really hasn't created anything unique in its entire history. They bought DOS, which was a poor copy of CP/M. They "created" windows which was a copy of the Apple MacIntosh interface (and one from Xerox/PARC before it, which MS rightfully pointed out when Apple tried to sue them over the "Windows interface").

Almost all of their "productivity software" (Office, disk defrag, email, anti-virus, firewall, etc.) are either outright copies/clones of other/earlier software or intellectual property theft (disk defrag is one they effectively copied from Norton during the time they "licensed" it from Norton and then buried Norton in legalese until they dropped the suit).

As a "knee-jerk" reaction, the patent office should not grant MS patents unless they are PROVEN unique. OK, I understand that isn't the way it works, it is just that they know with their $'s they can bury/bankrupt anyone who tries to fight them. Gag!

pyroboy1080 says: