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What’s what with Barnes & Noble and Microsoft


Last year, Microsoft sued Barnes & Noble for breaking patents in its Android-based e-readers. Most companies, like Samsung, when sued by Microsoft over similar claims folded and paid off Microsoft. That’s why Microsoft makes more money from Android than it does from its own mobile operating system offerings. But, Barnes & Noble didn’t roll over. Instead, the last big bookstore company counter-attacked and they were winning. The International Trade Commission (ITC) seemed to be siding with Barnes & Noble. Uh-oh. So, Microsoft played let’s make a deal and created a new partnership with Barnes & Noble.

So, did Microsoft do the deal just because they realized that if their anti-Android patents would be ruled to be FUD? No, but it did have a heck of a lot to do with it. As Alison Frankel, senior writer at The American Lawyer, commented, “Microsoft paid B&N, the patent defendant, a sum of money that exceeded the marketplace value of its investment. How often does a patent plaintiff pay the defendant in a settlement? Especially when that defendant is on the ropes and urgently searching for a strategic investor?”

I know the answer to that one: Never.

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