Microsoft founder suing Apple, Google, OfficeMax

By Dow Jones Newswires-Wall Street Journal
Posted Aug. 27, 2010 at 1:46 p.m.

A firm run by Microsoft Corp. co-founder Paul Allen is suing Apple Inc., Google Inc. and 9 other companies alleging they are violating patents developed at a Silicon Valley lab Allen financed more than a decade ago.

Allen, 57, Friday through his firm Interval Licensing LLC filed suit in federal court in Seattle asserting the companies are using technology from his laboratory. Named in the suit, along with Apple and Google, are AOL Inc., eBay Inc., Facebook Inc., Netflix Inc., Office Depot Inc., OfficeMax Inc., Staples Inc., Yahoo Inc. and Google’s YouTube subsidiary.

The suit doesn’t name Microsoft, Inc. or other technology firms in Seattle, where Allen is based. The suit doesn’t estimate a damage amount.

The suit lists violations of four patents for technology that appear to be key components of the operations of the companies-and that of e-commerce and Internet search companies in general.

The technology behind one patent allows a site to offer suggestions to consumers for items related to what they are currently viewing, or related to online activities of others in the case of social-networking sites.

A second patent, among other things, allows readers of a news story to quickly locate articles related to a particular subject. Two others enable ads, stock quotes, news updates or video images to flash on a computer screen, peripherally to a user’s main activity.

The lawsuit marks new terrain for Allen who is aggressively going after anyone he thinks is violating technology that was developed at Interval Research Corp., a now defunct Palo Alto, Calif., lab and technology incubator he financed with about $100 million during the Internet bubble. Mr. Allen, a pioneer of computer software, didn’t develop any of the technology himself but owns the patents.

Allen’s spokesman, David Postman, said he wasn’t available to comment. Mr. Postman emphasized that Mr. Allen’s lab created the technology that he wants to mark as his own and that protecting innovation is important to him.

-By Dionne Searcey, The Wall Street Journal

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One comment:

  1. jack (me) Aug. 27, 2010 at 1:57 pm

    The other question is whether the companies are using Allen’s Blue Screen of Death. That seems to be the big Microsoft development.