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09 November 2011, 10:58

Android device maker calls on US DOJ to investigate Microsoft

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Barnes & Noble, book seller and maker of Android based Nook devices, has called on the US Department of Justice to investigate Microsoft's demands for patent royalties on devices that run Android. Bloomberg reports that, in a letter to Gene Kimmelman, the DOJ's chief counsel for competition policy, Barnes & Noble says that "Microsoft is attempting to raise its rivals' costs in order to drive out competition and to deter innovation in mobile devices."

In March, Microsoft sued Barnes & Noble and the companies that assemble its Nook e-reader – Foxconn and Inventec – claiming the companies infringe five patents. Microsoft has also asked the International Trade Commission (ITC) to ban imports of the Nook devices. At an ITC hearing this week, Barnes & Noble made its DOJ letter public. Barnes & Noble says that Microsoft is seeking as much in royalties as it would charge for using its Windows Phone operating system. It also cites Microsoft's involvement in the consortium that purchased Novell's patents in April and a three-way licensing agreement between Microsoft, Nokia and Mosaid.

Microsoft has been making rapid progress in obtaining royalties form Android device makers: most recently it made a deal with Compal and is in talks with Huawei. In all, Microsoft claims that over 50% of original device manufacturers who use Android pay it royalties for a set of undisclosed patents. The patent trial which will consider Microsoft's claims against Barnes & Noble is set for February.


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