Microsoft vs Barnes & Noble: Who Really Wins?

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Microsoft vs Barnes & Noble: Who Really Wins?

Microsoft didn’t hold back in its opening salvo:

“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.”

So said Horacio Gutierrez, Corporate Vice President and Deputy General Counsel for Intellectual Property & Licensing.

On his blog, Horacio went into a little more detail. The patents in question:

  • Give people easy ways to navigate through information provided by their device apps via a separate control window with tabs;
  • Enable display of a webpage’s content before the background image is received, allowing users to interact with the page faster;
  • Allow apps to superimpose download status on top of the downloading content;
  • Permit users to easily select text in a document and adjust that selection; and
  • Provide users the ability to annotate text without changing the underlying document.

Microsoft’s argument seems to boil down to this: other companies, such as HTC, have paid up. If Barnes & Noble won’t pay up too, we have no choice but to take them to court.

Read the comments below that blog post and you’ll see a lot of people getting very angry with Microsoft, but perhaps the software giant isn’t the enemy here.

As Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry says at Business Insider, the patent system is the real villain here: “Don’t hate the player, hate the game.”

Ultimately, the winners here won’t be us consumers, or even the companies in the courtroom. The real winners will be their representatives, the lawyers.