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Microsoft Pri0

Welcome to Microsoft Pri0: That's Microspeak for top priority, and that's the news and observations you'll find here from Seattle Times technology reporter Matt Day.

January 31, 2012 at 2:17 PM

ITC judge dismisses BN’s patent misuse claims against Microsoft

A judge with the International Trade Commission today granted Microsoft’s request to dismiss Barnes & Noble’s allegations that Microsoft engaged in anti-competitive practices by misusing its patents.

That’s according to Florian Mueller, an intellectual-property analyst who’s been tracking worldwide software patent disputes on his FOSS Patents blog.

(FYI: Mueller has been commissioned by Microsoft to conduct a study on the worldwide use of FRAND-committed patents, which might be seen as a conflict of interest with his blog analyses.)

The details of the ITC administrative law judge’s order are under seal. But Mueller writes that “the headline of the following docket entry leaves no doubt at all about the outcome.” (The title of the docket entry is: Initial Determination Granting Microsoft’s Motion for Summary Determination of Respondents’ First Affirmative Defense of Patent Misuse.)

This latest decision stems from a legal battle between Microsoft and Barnes & Noble over patents. MIcrosoft asserts that the bookstore chain’s Nook e-reader and Nook Color tablets, which run on Google’s Android software, infringe on some of Microsoft’s patents.

Barnes & Noble, in turn, has asked regulators, including the ITC and Department of Justice, to review whether Microsoft’s patent-licensing agreements with makers of Android devices are anti-competitive.

“Today’s action by the ITC makes clear that Barnes & Noble’s patent misuse defense was meritless,” said David Howard, Microsoft’s deputy general counsel for litigation. “This case is only about one thing — patent infringement by Barnes & Noble’s Android-based devices. We remain as open as ever to extending a license to Barnes & Noble, and invite them to join the many other major device makers in paying for the Microsoft-developed intellectual property they use in their devices.”

A spokesperson for Barnes & Noble could not immediately be reached for comment.

The ITC hearing on the case is scheduled to start Monday.

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