Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Microsoft streamlines Barnes&Noble case by withdrawing one patent and seven claims from four remaining patents

Approximately four weeks ahead of the ITC hearing on Microsoft's complaint against Barnes & Noble, the scope of the investigation has been narrowed. Microsoft and Barnes & Noble filed a stipulation yesterday (which entered the public record today) according to which Microsoft withdraws all of the asserted claims from one patent and some of the asserted claims from the four remaining patents. The stipulation expressly states that this is "not an admission as to the merits of any claim" but merely meant to "simplify the Investigation, streamline the hearing, and converse the Parties' and Commission's resources in consideration of the amount of time allotted for the hearing".

The ITC's Administrative Law Judges routinely encourage complainants to narrow their case, and if patent claims get dropped, it typically happens a few weeks ahead of trial, in mid-trial, or shortly thereafter. Last week, Motorola dropped (a few weeks after the hearing) one of its patents-in-suit against Apple.

Here's a table that shows the impact of the stipulation:





6,339,780Loading status in a hypermedia browser having a limited available display area

1-6, 9-14, 17-26, 29-42


6,891,551Selection handles in editing electronic documents

7, 9, 11

1-3, 5, 8, 10

6,957,233Method and apparatus for capturing and rendering annotations for non-modifiable electronic content



5,889,522System provided child window controls

1, 2


5,778,372Remote retrieval and display management of electronic document with incorporated images



This looks like a thorough streamlining to me. At the ITC, which operates under more rigid timelines and page limits than the district courts, less (in terms of fewer patent claims) can be more (in terms of the final outcome).

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