updated 04:05 pm EDT, Wed April 27, 2011
Barnes and Noble says Microsoft breaks antitrust
Barnes & Noble in a response (PDF via Groklaw) both rejected many of the claims of Microsoft's anti-Android lawsuit but directly claimed Microsoft was violating antitrust law through its deal with Nokia. The Nook maker claimed that the Microsoft-Nokia pact for patent deals was "per se illegal" under antitrust laws. Its agreement between equals was a "coordinated offensive" meant to crush competition outside of fair market conditions, not just from Android but from any open-source platform, such as Linux.
The bookstore operator also revealed the extent to which Microsoft was reportedly bullying Barnes & Noble into dropping Android entirely. Microsoft claimed to have claim charts showing exactly how the Nook readers violated six of its patents but conveniently claimed the charts required a non-disclosure deal, preventing Barnes & Noble from ever publicly discussing both the accuracy of the claims and the discussions themselves. Barnes & Noble refused on the grounds the details were public.
Microsoft offered a license to silence the threat of a lawsuit, but it supposedly asked for an "exorbitant" per-device rate, even for the grayscale device. The primary motivation of artificially eliminating competition for Windows and Windows Phone 7 was clear when Microsoft revealed that it would charge much more for anything that was "more like a computer," raising the price to make the tablet-like Nook Color to the point where it would have been impossible to sell.
"The license fees demanded by Microsoft are higher than what Microsoft charges for a license to its entire operating system designed for mobile devices, Windows Phone 7," Barnes & Noble said in the response.
It went on not just to dispute claims that it had infringed on patents but said some of the patents, which themselves are public record, might not even be related to an operating system.
Microsoft has tried to claim that Android inherently infringes its patents, but the company has taken a publicly selective stance as to which companies it sues versus coming to terms. It has sued companies like Motorola that use Android exclusively and have had no intention of using Microsoft's platforms while conspicuously avoiding such cases against anyone also using WP7. Microsoft reached a deal with HTC last year and has never hinted at suing Dell, LG, or Samsung, all of which are major Android users but also WP7 launch partners.
The revelations and accusations of antitrust abuse came just weeks before the US was due to end antitrust oversight of Microsoft after it allegedly violated antitrust law through forced bundling of Internet Explorer. [via ZDNet]