Microsoft’s relentless strategy calling for royalties upon Android device vendors over an alleged patent infringement is earning them millions of dollars, but also a few enemies along the way, from Google’s Eric Schmidt to Barnes & Noble (and quite possibly Amazon, set to launch its Kindle Fire tablet November 15). Bloomberg reports that Barnes & Noble is launching a pre-emptive strike by asking the United States regulators to probe Microsoft’s anti-Android strategy:
Microsoft is embarking on a campaign of asserting trivial and outmoded patents against manufacturers of Android devices,” Barnes & Noble said in an Oct. 17 letter to Gene Kimmelman, the Justice Department’s chief counsel for competition policy. “Microsoft is attempting to raise its rivals’ costs in order to drive out competition and to deter innovation in mobile devices.
Over half of all Android devices sold are now under Microsoft’s Android protection. Microsoft issued a statement saying it “would be pleased to extend a license to Barnes & Noble”, underscoring they make their patents available on “reasonable terms for other operating systems, like Android”.
Barnes & Noble on Monday unveiled its Android-powered tablet device named Nook Tablet and priced at $249. The product launch came in spite of a March patent dispute with Microsoft concerning Android’s handling of navigation and rendering of web site content. The Windows maker filed a complaint with the United States International Trade Commission in Washington, seeking to block imports of the Nook readers.
Microsoft’s anti-Android strategy appears to be working. Yesterday, the company pressured Chinese Android vendor Huawei into paying royalties. HTC is paying an estimated $5 royalty per device, Samsung is signed up, and other vendors including ViewSonic, Acer, GDI and Compal Electronics add to deals with well over ten manufacturers.