Barnes & Noble Has to Pay a Patent Troll $267,000

When covering tech patent lawsuits it is sometimes difficult to tell whether there is valid grounds for the suit or if the plaintiff is just a patent troll. Carnegie-Mellon University, for example, was accused of being a patent troll when it sued Marvell even though CMU has legitimately invented a lot of technology.

But then there are cases like the following where it is obvious that the plaintiff is a troll.

TBO reports that  B&N has lost its second tril against Adrea LLC, a patent holding company owned by Philips, Discovery, Sony, and Intertrust.

US-based book retailer Barnes & Noble (B&N) has been ordered to pay nearly $267,000 for patent infringement.

Adrea, based in the US, originally brought its suit against B&N at the US District Court for the Southern District of New York in June 2013.

In the suit, Adrea argued that B&N had wilfully infringed its patents, US numbers 7,298,851; 7,299,501; and 7,620,703.

The ‘851 is titled “Electronic book security and copyright protection system”, while the ‘501 is called “Electronic book selection and delivery system having encryption and security features”. The ‘703 patent is titled “Topical service provides context information for a home network”.

B&N allegedly infringed the patents through its Nook e-reader products, which included the Nook HD+, Nook Simple Touch, Nook Tablet and Nook 1st Edition.

Adrea asked for triple damages, interests, costs, attorneys’ fees and a trial by jury.

In 2014, a jury found B&N liable for infringing the ‘703 and ‘501 patents, but said that the infringement was not wilful. The jury awarded Adrea $1.33 million in damages. However, in July 2015, the southern district court granted B&N’s pre-trial motion that the ‘501 patent was invalid. As a result, the court ordered a limited new trial in order to determine damages for the ‘703 patent.

You can find the ruling here, but the patents are the more interesting reading:




The first (‘703) describes basic features found in all web browsers, the second and third (501, invalid, and 851) describe the standard parts of a content DRM system.

There’s literally nothing here which is unique or special. Hire a couple college students and they will be able to build the systems described in the patents all on their own, using nothing but open source software – all without reading the patents in question.

Barnes & Noble got trolled.

image by eirikso

Nate Hoffelder

View posts by Nate Hoffelder
Nate Hoffelder is the founder of The Digital Reader. He has been blogging about indie authors since 2010 while learning new tech skills weekly. He fixes author sites, and shares what he learns on The Digital Reader's blog. In his spare time, he fosters dogs for A Forever Home, a local rescue group.


  1. Gbm4 January, 2017

    The only proprietary software in the nook is the Abode SDK.

  2. Chris Meadows4 January, 2017

    How has Amazon avoided getting walloped with this?

    1. Nate Hoffelder4 January, 2017

      Perhaps they settled quietly? Or threatened to get the patents invalidated?

  3. MKS5 January, 2017

    Amazon did get walloped. And they too might get hit with treble damages in future:

    1. Nate Hoffelder5 January, 2017

      Ah, so they settled.

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