Barnes & Noble is asking the U.S. Justice Department to examine Microsoft’s effort to use its patents to win licensing royalties from Android device makers, according to a Bloomberg News report today.
Bloomberg quotes an Oct. 17 letter from Barnes & Noble to a top Justice Department official: “Microsoft is embarking on a campaign of asserting trivial and outmoded patents against manufacturers of Android devices. Microsoft is attempting to raise its rivals’ costs in order to drive out competition and to deter innovation in mobile devices.”
Microsoft sued Barnes & Noble earlier this year over its Android-based Nook Color device. Barnes & Noble later said Microsoft wanted “shockingly high” licensing fees, based on its claims that Android violates its patents.
The Redmond company recently said it’s seeing success with its licensing program for Android device makers, striking deals more often than it needs to resort to litigation.
“For those who continue to protest that the smartphone patent thicket is too difficult to navigate, it’s past time to wake up,” wrote Microsoft executives Brad Smith and Horacio Gutierrez at the time. “As Microsoft has entered new markets from the enterprise to the Xbox, we’ve put together comprehensive licensing programs that address not only our own needs but the needs of our customers and partners as well. As our recent agreements clearly show, Android handset manufacturers are now doing the same thing. Ultimately, that’s a good path for everyone.”
Update, 4:28 p.m.: Microsoft just issued this statement: “All modern operating systems include many patented technologies. Microsoft has taken licenses to patents for Windows and we make our patents available on reasonable terms for other operating systems, like Android. We would be pleased to extend a license to Barnes & Noble.”