Microsoft facing Android patent competition probe

Barnes & Noble has asked US antitrust regulators to investigate if Microsoft is abusing its position by demanding royalties from companies making kit running Android software.

Microsoft facing Android patent competition probe

The move was revealed in a letter from the book seller to competition regulators and comes in the wake of Microsoft taking legal action earlier this year over five patents that it claims were infringed in the Nook ebook reader.

“Microsoft is embarking on a campaign of asserting trivial and outmoded patents against manufacturers of Android devices,” Barnes & Noble said in a letter to Gene Kimmelman, the Justice Department’s chief counsel for competition policy, according to Bloomberg.

“Microsoft is attempting to raise its rivals’ costs in order to drive out competition and to deter innovation in mobile devices.”

Microsoft has laid claim to several patented inventions that are used in the Google-owned Android operating system, and has been taking royalty payments from other manufactuers, including Samsung and HTC.

“All modern operating systems include many patented technologies,” Microsoft said in a statement sent to Bloomberg.

“Microsoft has taken licenses to patents for Windows and we make our patents available on reasonable terms for other operating systems, like Android,” it said. “We would be pleased to extend a license to Barnes & Noble.”

Barnes & Noble contends that the Microsoft and other big companies are buying up patents – as with the Novell patent swoop – in order to restrict competition.

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