Microsoft has filed a lawsuit against Barnes & Noble charging the national bookstore chain and its manufacturing partners, Foxconn International Holdings Ltd. and Inventec Corporation, with infringing on Microsoft patents in the production of the Nook and NookColor Android-based e-reader and tablet devices. The suit was filed with the International Trade Commission and the U.S. District Court of the Western District of Washington.

Horacio Gutierrez, Microsoft corporate v-p and deputy general counsel for intellectual property & licensing, said “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.” In the suit, Microsoft said it has been harmed, and will continue to be harmed, by the "unlawful infringing activity unless Defendants are enjoined by this Court." Microsoft said in the complaint that it is entitled to "enhanced damages and reasonable attorney fees and costs."

The patents in question include U.S. Patent No. 5,778,372, U.S. Patent No. 6,339,780, U.S. Patent No. 5,889,522, U.S. Patent No. 6,891,551, and U.S. Patent No. 6,957,233.

Gutierrez said that Microsoft has established “an industry-wide patent licensing program for Android device manufacturers, noting that HTC, a major manufacturer of Android smartphones, has taken a license under this program. “The Android platform infringes a number of Microsoft’s patents, and companies manufacturing and shipping Android devices must respect our intellectual property rights,” he said.

This is not the first suit that Microsoft has filed against manufacturers of Android OS devices.In October, Microsoft filed suit against Motorola Mobility Holdings over its Android phone handsets. According to a statement released by Microsoft, the patents in question, “cover a range of functionality embodied in Android devices that are essential to the user experience, including: natural ways of interacting with devices by tabbing through various screens to find the information they need; surfing the Web more quickly, and interacting with documents and e-books.”

Asked for a response to the suit, a spokesperson for Barnes & Noble told PW, “as a matter of policy, we don’t comment on litigation.”