web_browser_icons.jpgSan Diego – In response to a patent infringement complaint filed in March by Microsoft, Barnes & Noble has filed its own claim accusing the Seattle-based computer giant of abusing patent laws to prevent manufacturers from using the Android technology.  Microsoft’s lawsuit against the largest book retailer in the United States involves the alleged infringement of six patents in its Android-based Nook e-Reader.  Also included in the complaint are Nook manufacturers Foxconn and Inventec.

The technology behind the patents in Microsoft’s complaint include display of a webpage’s content before the background image is received, allowing users to interact with the page faster, navigation options for information provided by device apps via a separate control window with tabs, giving users the ability to annotate text without changing the original document, the ability for apps to superimpose download status on top of the downloading content and, allowing users to choose text in a document and make changes to that selection.  Reportedly, Microsoft had initially offered to license the patents to Barnes & Noble, which was refused.  It has already struck licensing deals with several Android manufacturers including Amazon and HTC for the Kindle e-Reader. 

Barnes & Noble’s response to the patent infringement complaint claims Microsoft is “misusing these patents as part of a scheme to try to eliminate competition to its own Windows Phone 7 mobile device operating system posed by the open source Android operating system and other open source operating systems.”  The book retailer also described a July 2010 meeting with Microsoft at which Microsoft claimed it had “detailed claim charts” that it said would prove that Barnes & Noble was infringing on the patents.  Microsoft would not allow Barnes & Noble to view the claim charts unless the latter signed a non-disclosure agreement, which was refused by the book giant. 

Does Barnes & Noble have enough evidence to prove that Microsoft is forcing out the competition by abusing patent laws?  Between this battle with Microsoft and the overall decline in physical book sales, Barnes & Noble has quite a challenge facing it.