CyberTech Rambler

April 27, 2011

Juicy stuff from Barnes and Noble’s reply to Microsoft Patent Lawsuit

Filed under: Uncategorized — ctrambler @ 7:39 pm

The internet is buzzing with Barnes and Noble’s reply to Microsoft’s Patent Lawsuit about Nook, B&N’s ebook reader. Groklaw’s coverage and the place where you can get the raw data instead of somebody’s analysis is  here.

It is more and less a confirmation of things we already know or suspected: (1) Microsoft wants an Non-Disclosure Agreement signed before it will reveal which patents B&N is alleged to have infringed, (2) It is not about the ebook reader itself, it is after Android.

Two things, however, which I did not expect: (1) The accusation that Microsoft and Nokia cooperation agreement has a stated/unstated goal of  using the collective patent aggressively against Android and (2) the royalty Microsoft demand for its patent in Android is higher than that for Windows 7.

For people like me, the value of B&N’s reply  is more about what happens behind the scene rather than B&N’s actual accusations. For one thing, the part on Microsoft going after Android, Microsoft and Nokia’s agreement to go aggressively against Android and higher royalty demand for Android-based device than Windows-based device is, at the end of the day, irrelevant if B&N actually infringed on the patents.

Moreover, on the NDA, it is probably standard practice. We also know that Microsoft loves NDA when it comes to throwing patent claims around Linux and Android. While it nonetheless suggests that Microsoft’s claim is not as strong as it would like and it does not want its  claim tested ‘prematurely’, I believe the ultimate purpose for B&N lawyers’ decision not to sign it  is to ‘wrong-foot’ Microsoft’s lawyers and to throw a spanner in their plans for the meeting in question. They achieved what they wanted beautifully. The other time I know  someone managed to beautifully wrong-foot his opponent is Malaysia’s Lingam in his now infamous ‘Looks like me, sounds like me but it is not me in the video clip’

One thing we can be certain, B&N is telling Microsoft what it plans to do if the lawsuit goes into discovery phase. It puts Microsoft on notice that it will want information about Microsoft’s claims over Android on public display and for the public (including me) to chip in its 2 cent. It will also expose Microsoft’s rate on Windows Phone 7 and compare it with what it wants to tax Android device. It also wants to have a look, and if possible, make public aspects of Microsoft-Nokia agreement where the two parties might not like others to see. It is an aggressive stand aimed at exposing Microsoft business strategy against Android.  It is effectively asking Microsoft how much it values its current business strategy and do it want it to be laid out in public?

Just one other question: Why is it B&N that asks these questions? Why not Google? I am sure given the opportunity, Google would love to ask them. What I am not sure, is Microsoft dares to prompt Google to ask the questions. If any, it is tiptoeing around Google.

If you see B&N as a company banking on e-reader success, then one  can see the why B&N is fighting so hard. We live in a real world, it is probably cheaper for B&N to follow the route taken by others to pay a small blackmail fees to Microsoft. May be it is just a ploy to get Microsoft to lower its extortion money. I don’t really see Google is behind B&N right now, but Google will be polishing its shield in case it is needed.


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