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February 6, 2012 at 11:22 AM

ITC staff backs Barnes & Noble in patent fight with Microsoft

An International Trade Commission staff attorney told Bloomberg News today that he’s recommending the judge decide in favor of Barnes & Noble in the bookstore’s patent fight with Microsoft.

Staff attorney Jeff Hsu is recommending that ITC Judge Theodore Essex “find there was no violation by Barnes & Noble of three Microsoft patents,” Bloomberg reported.

The case stems from Microsoft’s allegations that Barnes & Noble’s Nook e-reader and Nook Color tablet, which run on Google’s Android operating system, infringe on some of MIcrosoft’s patents. The trial begins today.

Last week, Microsoft withdrew one of its infringement allegations. That leaves three Microsoft patents that the software company claims BN violated. Those involve annotation software that allows readers to make notes on e-books separate from the book, software that allows people to select and make a text area larger or smaller, and technology that helps readers perceive faster browser downloads by displaying text first, then the background.

According to Bloomberg:

Essex is scheduled to release his findings April 27, and a decision in Microsoft’s favor could lead to a ban on imports of Nook readers made outside the U.S. The staff acts as a third party in the case, and there’s no requirement that the judge follow the recommendation.

A Microsoft spokesman said of the report:

This was a preliminary argument by the Office of Unfair Import Investigations (‘OUII’) staff attorney, which was filed before the presentation of the evidence at the hearing has occurred. The OUII staff may change its position after the hearing. Additionally, the administrative law judge will hear the evidence and arguments at the hearing and will come to his own conclusion.

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