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Microsoft Sues Barnes & Noble, Nook E-Reader Manufacturers Charging Patent Infringement

Microsoft charges that technology governing how users interact with the Nook e-reader are covered by a number of Microsoft patents

Microsoft filed suit Monday against Barnes & Noble, Foxconn International Holdings Ltd. and Inventec Corp. in the U.S. District Court of the Western District of Washington, according to a Microsoft statement. The company also filed a complaint with the International Trade Commission over the alleged patent infringement.

"The Android platform infringes a number of Microsoft’s patents, and companies manufacturing and shipping Android devices must respect our intellectual property rights," said Horacio Gutierrez, Microsoft corporate vice president and deputy general counsel for intellectual property and licensing, in a statement.

"To facilitate that we have established an industry-wide patent licensing program for Android device manufacturers," Gutierrez said. "Other vendors, including HTC, a market leader in Android smartphones, have taken a license under this program, and we have tried for over a year to reach licensing agreements with Barnes & Noble, Foxconn and Inventec. Their refusals to take licenses leave us no choice but to bring legal action to defend our innovations and fulfill our responsibility to our customers, partners, and shareholders to safeguard the billions of dollars we invest each year to bring great software products and services to market."

A spokesperson for Barnes & Noble said the company does not comment on litigation as a matter of policy. Spokespersons for Foxconn and Inventec couldn't be immediately reached for comment on the Microsoft lawsuit.

Microsoft said the patents at issue cover a range of functionality within the Nook, including how users interact with the device, such as by tabbing through various screens, surfing the Web and interacting with e-books and documents.

Microsoft said one patent it holds specifically covers how a separate control window displays tabs listing various types of information, helping people navigate through information. Another patent covers technology that enables a page's content to be displayed before the background image is received. And Microsoft said it holds patents on technology that lets users select text and expand their selection in either direction, as well as annotate text without changing the underlying document.

Microsoft, which has a history of aggressively enforcing its patents, has argued that Android devices and the Linux operating that powers many Android products violate Microsoft patents.

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