Is Microsoft Bullying Device Manufacturers with Patent Claims?

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Microsoft has declared a quiet war against Android, using patents to try and drive competitors out of business – or at least, out of competition. That’s the claim being made by Barnes & Noble, which is asking U.S. regulators to investigate Microsoft’s business practices as they relate to mobile device patents.

Barnes & Noble wrote to U.S. Justice Department chief counsel for competition policy Gene Kimmelman last month, saying that Microsoft was “embarking on a campaign of asserting trivial and outmoded patents against manufacturers of Android devices” and “attempting to raise its rivals’ costs in order to drive out competition and to deter innovation in mobile devices.”

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The accusation comes after Microsoft had claimed that B&N’s Nook reader infringed on five patents it held, filing a complaint with the U.S. International Trade Commission with the intention of blocking import of the readers into the U.S. A trial for those claims has already been scheduled for February.

At the time of its complaint, Microsoft said that the company “would be pleased to extend a license to Barnes & Noble.” Now that the latter has accused them of what is essentially extortion, you have to wonder just how pleased they’d be if Barnes & Noble filed a license application today. Microsoft has so far issued no comment on B&N’s claims.

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[via Bloomberg]

Graeme McMillan is a reporter at TIME. Find him on Twitter at @Graemem or on Facebook at Facebook/Graeme.McMillan. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.

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