Paul Allen renews suit against Apple, Google

Ronny Kerr · December 29, 2010 · Short URL:

Microsoft co-founder accuses 11 tech firms and retailers of patent infringement

Paul AllenNow Apple doesn’t have to be the only company confronted with a new lawsuit just in time for the new year.

Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen has renewed his suit against Apple, Facebook, Google and eight other tech firms and retailers, alleging that the high-profile companies infringed on patents issued to Interval Research Corporation, a computer R&D firm founded by Allen in 1992 and dissolved in 2000. The other companies being sued are AOL, eBay, Netflix, Office Depot, OfficeMax, Staples, Yahoo and YouTube.

There has yet to be any official comment made by the defendant companies.

Allen first filed suit in August, but it was dismissed on December 13 by Marsha Pechman, a U.S. District judge in Seattle, for being too vague. The plaintiff’s legal team had until December 28 to alter the suit with further specifics, which they did just in time.

The four patents cited in the suit:

  • No. 6,263,507 (“the ’507 patent”), entitled “Browser for Use in Navigating a Body of Information, With Particular Application to Browsing Information Represented By Audiovisual Data,” which has to do with the efficient categorization of information and data.
  • No. 6,788,314 (“the ’314 patent”), entitled “Attention Manager for Occupying the Peripheral Attention of a Person in the Vicinity of a Display Device.” which describes a way of presenting information in “an unobtrusive manner.”
  • No. 6,034,652 (“the ’652 patent”), entitled “Attention Manager for Occupying the Peripheral Attention of a Person in the Vicinity of a Display Device.” which an extension of the ‘314 patent above.
  • No. 6,757,682 (“the ’682 patent”), entitled “Alerting Users to Items of Current Interest.” which has to do with presenting content “of current interest” to users.

One example, on page seven of the filing, accuses AOL of operating a spam filter that categorizes new emails as either “spam” or “not spam,” based “at least in part on a comparison between the new email and other emails that have been received by AOL Mail.” (What modern email system doesn’t do this?) The suit says this technology implementation violates the first patent listed above.

Another example, also on page seven of the filing, says that Apple also uses technology described in patent ‘507 to help visitors to the store find multimedia and content related to whatever they’re viewing at the moment.

Obviously these are the kinds of technologies that pretty much every Web service uses these days, but Allen is only going after the high-profile companies.

I guess he isn’t content with being all the way down at spot #37 on Forbes’ list of the world’s billionaires. Allen’s net worth is at $13.5 billion, according to that list.

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Ronny Kerr

I am a professional writer with a decade of experience in the technology industry. At VatorNews, I cover the zero-waste economy, venture capital, and cannabis. I'm also available for freelance hire.

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