A diagram from one of the three Microsoft patents at issue in the case.

Microsoft and Barnes & Noble will go to trial this week at the International Trade Commission in a closely watched test of Microsoft’s claims that Google’s Android operating system violates its patents. At issue are technologies used in Barnes & Noble’s Android-based Nook Color, Simple Touch Reader and Nook Tablet devices.

Barring a settlement, the final outcome is still months away. A preliminary determination from the administrative law judge would come in April, with a final ruling from the ITC four months later.

Barnes & Noble disputes Microsoft’s patent claims and says the Redmond company wanted “shockingly high” patent licensing fees. The judge in the case recently dealt a blow to Barnes & Noble’s defense with a preliminary ruling against its argument that Microsoft’s initiative to collect royalties from makers of Android devices amounts to “patent misuse.”

Microsoft says it has reached patent deals with Android device makers representing 70 percent of Android smartphones sold in the U.S. Some of the patents date back to the early days of the company’s work on Windows-based Tablet PCs.

With Microsoft recently dropping an additional patent from the case, the dispute has been narrowed to three patents from the original five cited in Microsoft’s suit.

Selection Handles in an Electronic Document.

Patent #6,891,551: “Selection handles in editing electronic documents.” Issued May 10, 2005

Abstract: A computer system and method for highlighting and selecting elements of electronic documents is disclosed. In one embodiment, a selection area identifies an initial selection of data, and one or more selection handles appear on the selection area to allow dynamic resizing of the selection area to select a larger or smaller portion of data or number of items.

Patent #5,778,372: “Remote retrieval and display management of electronic document with incorporated images.” Issued July 7, 1998.

Abstract: A browser remotely retrieves electronic documents from a remote computer network for viewing by a user. For enhancing responsiveness, the browser initially displays an electronic document without a background image so that the electronic document is initially displayed more quickly. The browser also prioritizes downloading of embedded images of the document by their incorporation in the currently visible portion of the electronic document. Further, the browser dynamically creates additional connections for retrieving resources incorporated into the electronic document from the remote computer network.

Annotating non-modifiable electronic content, such as electronic books

Patent #6,957,233Method and apparatus for capturing and rendering annotations for non-modifiable electronic content.” Issued Oct. 18, 2005.

Abstract: A system and method for capturing annotations for a non-modifiable document is disclosed. Once it is determined that an annotation is to be created, the system determines the file position of the selected object. The file position of the selected object is stored along with the created annotation in another file or a non-read only portion of a file storing the document. Using the file position, the annotation may be properly identified with the selected object without modifying the non-modifiable document.

Previously on GeekWire: Microsoft vs. Motorola: The 13-year-old patent filing in the middle of a smartphone war

Comments

  • Sławek

    The third patent doesn’t seem original to me. That’s the only one I had an in-depth look at. It fails to describe how the selected object is being addressed. 

    Besides XPath, the w3c standard, has been along, for a very long time now, also the XML Linking Language dates back to 1997 and the patent is dated 2005. The annotation question lives since markup has ever existed and that’s 30 years back.In my opinion you can prove lack of originality for any software patent. Except if the patent relies on a very complex scientific research, the results of which are hardcoded in the source code, which certainly is not the case here.

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