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Barnes & Noble subpoenas Nokia over Microsoft Android lawsuit

Bookseller's request for documents could shed light on the patents involved and the fees Microsoft is accruing from Android

By , Network World
November 09, 2011 05:09 PM ET

Network World - Barnes & Noble has subpoenaed Nokia and its patent-enforcement agency, Mosaid Technologies, as it defends itself against Microsoft's Android patent infringement lawsuit, according to documents filed with the U.S. International Trade Commission.

As part of its $1 billion investment in Nokia earlier this year, Microsoft gained access to Nokia's more than 2,000 patents. Additionally, in September, Nokia extended to Microsoft its agreement with Mosaid, making it a threesome of patent sharing.

Barnes & Noble last month also asked the Department of Justice to investigate Microsoft's use of patents for antitrust violations. In a letter, Barnes & Noble asserted, "Microsoft is embarking on a campaign of asserting trivial and outmoded patents against manufacturers of Android devices."

BACKGROUND: Microsoft pressures Huawei over Android patents while Barnes & Noble fires back

Barnes & Noble is keen to showcase the patent-sharing arrangement between Nokia and Mosaid to support this accusation. Last month, Barnes & Noble subpoenaed both Nokia and Mosaid for a broad list of documents and information.

"The requested information will demonstrate that Microsoft is broadening its patent portfolio as part of its campaign to use minor patents to suppress competition from Android and protect its monopoly in PC operating systems," Barnes & Noble's lawyers wrote in documents filed with the USITC.

GRAPHIC: Mobile Patent Suits

The bookseller wants Nokia and Mosaid to turn over documents and evidence of discussions pertaining to:

• The Nook.

• Asserting patents against Android or other open source operating systems.

• Nokia's knowledge of the patents that Microsoft, Nokia or MOSAID say Android violates.

• Details of Microsoft's agreement with Nokia, including rationale for it.

• The role played by former Microsoft executive and current Nokia CEO Stephen Elop in coordinating a strategy with Microsoft to compete with Android.

• Nokia's defensive and offensive use of its patents and its licensing strategies.

• Nokia's business plans regarding developing for Android.

• The impact of Android or any other operating system on Nokia's or Microsoft's business including tablets and evaluations/projects of market share.

• Mosaid's plans to use the intellectual property offensively or defensively.

So far, these documents have yet to appear for public consumption. Nokia and Mosaid independently filed motions to quash the subpoenas, or at least limit their scope. Among the arguments that Mosaid gave was, "Barnes & Noble requests a significant amount of financial data relating to MOSAID Technologies Incorporated's business dealings with Microsoft and Nokia. Because Microsoft was also a party to those business dealings, it also would be less costly and less burdensome for Barnes & Noble to obtain that information from Microsoft."

Like all stories involving the many patent lawsuits in the mobile industry, the story of Mosaid is full of intrigue. Mosaid is happy to sue, too. It has filed a patent infringement lawsuit against Cisco over Power over Ethernet (PoE). In September, Mosaid bought Core Wireless Licensing. Core Wireless was the original patent-license firm that had access to Nokia's patent stockpile. At the time, Mosaid said it would "fund its acquisition of the portfolio through royalties from future licensing and enforcement revenues."

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