Microsoft has begun legal proceedings against Barnes & Noble, Foxconn and Inventec over claims that their use of Android in e-book readers and tablets violates five Microsoft patents.
The firm claims that the patents include navigation through a separate control window with tabs, displaying a web page's content before the background image is downloaded, a system to superimpose download status on top of the content, a special text selection system and the ability to text without changing the underlying document.
"We have tried for over a year to reach licensing agreements with Barnes & Noble, Foxconn and Inventec," said Horacio Gutierrez, deputy general counsel for intellectual property and licensing at Microsoft.
"Their refusals to take licences leave us no choice but to bring legal action to defend our innovations and fulfil 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."
Gutierrez explained that Microsoft had set up a patent licensing programme for Android to avoid just this kind of issue, and that HTC and Amazon have already signed up.
"If Microsoft prevails and obtains an injunction (and/or an ITC import ban) against those companies, they will be enjoined from selling any other Android-based products infringing the same patents unless there is a licence agreement in place for a given product," said Florian Müller, founder of the No Software Patents organisation.
"Foxconn manufactures devices for many major players, including some well-known vendors of Android-based devices such as Acer, Asus, Dell, Samsung and Sony Ericsson."
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