Microsoft Would Not Acquire Significant IP From Barnes & Noble

The New York Times reported today that Microsoft has offered Barnes & Noble $1 billion for the bookseller’s Nook e-reader business.  Envision IP reviewed Barnes & Noble’s US patent portfolio to determine if intellectual property behind the Nook business played a part in Microsoft’s offer.

Barnes & Noble has 21 pending patent applications, and 5 issued design patents.  All of these patent applications and patents are related to its e-reader technology.  Below are exemplary images from its design patents, which focus primarily on cases, covers, and stands for e-readers:

Screen shot 2013-05-10 at 11.03.42 AM

The pending patent applications relate to various aspects of e-reader technology, from user interfaces and displays, to content distribution, back-end management, and fulfillment systems.

Two interesting filings, US 20120179753 and US 20120239758, relate to a consumer-to-consumer lending system that enables users who have purchased digital content (i.e., e-books) to lend that content to other users.

US 20120144308 describes a system for recommending digital content in which users employ their contact list to recommend digital content.  On a similar note, US 20120197976 relates to organizing a user’s address book contacts in a cloud-based system that aggregates similar contacts across multiple address books/devices.

US 20110206023 describes a system that provides controlled access to digital content for free while the wireless device is accessing the content in a specified location, e.g., a retail location.

The remaining filings relate to user interfaces, displays, formatting digital content based on form-factors, and buying/acquiring digital content from remote sources.

Microsoft certainly has its own technology for mobile computing and digital content distribution, and Barnes & Noble’s pending patent applications will likely complement Microsoft’s existing technology well.  The pending applications give some insight into how Nook technology may evolve to enhance and improve the customer experience, and add features that incorporate social aspects, such as sharing, lending, and suggesting digital content.

However, since the only issued patents related to the Nook product line are design patents, it remains to be seen if the pending patent applications will actually issue and be commercialized.

Tweet about this on Twitter0Share on LinkedIn0Share on Facebook0Share on Google+0Share on Reddit0Email this to someone