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Paul Allen revises patent suit against 11 tech firms

Microsoft's co-founder has amended his patent infringement suit against Apple, Google, Facebook, and other tech giants, alleging that they're using technology owned by his firm, Interval Licensing.

Lance Whitney Contributing Writer
Lance Whitney is a freelance technology writer and trainer and a former IT professional. He's written for Time, CNET, PCMag, and several other publications. He's the author of two tech books--one on Windows and another on LinkedIn.
Lance Whitney
2 min read

Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen has refiled a lawsuit against several major technology companies over claims of patent infringement.

Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen
Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen

In his revised complaint filed yesterday, Allen alleges that 11 tech companies and retailers--Apple, Google, Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, YouTube, eBay, Netflix, OfficeMax, Office Depot, and Staples--are violating patents granted to him when he headed Interval Research, a small R&D firm that he started in 1992 and ran until it went out of business in 2000.

Allen initially filed the suit in August in U.S. District Court in Seattle. At the time, Allen's Interval Licensing company--which holds the patents of Interval Research--said in a press release that the "patents in the lawsuit cover fundamental web technologies first developed at Interval Research in the 1990s, which the company believes are being infringed by major e-commerce and web search companies."

The lawsuit was dismissed by U.S. District Judge Marsha Pechman on December 13 on grounds that the charges were too vague. In her ruling, Pechman gave Allen until December 28 to revise the suit with the necessary specifics. Allen's legal team labeled the judge's ruling a "procedural issue" and said it would meet the deadline, which it did just in time.

The revised complaint details specific products, services, and technologies offered or used by the defendants, according to a Wall Street Journal article.

As one example, the suit claims that Apple uses a function developed at and patented by Interval Research that compares content items to determine whether they are related. This function is used in a variety of Apple products, including iTunes, Apple's App Store, and Apple TV, the Journal said. The claim against Google cites a violation of the same patented technology, which the search giant uses in Google Search, Gmail, Google Maps, and other features.

The four patents that Allen alleges have been violated are:

No. 6,263,507, "Browser for use in navigating a body of information, with particular application to browsing information represented by audiovisual data."

• "="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">No. 6,034,652, "Attention manager for occupying the peripheral attention of a person in the vicinity of a display device."

No. 6,788,314, "Attention manager for occupying the peripheral attention of a person in the vicinity of a display device e."

No. 6,757,682, "Alerting users to items of current interest."

Below is a copy of the amended suit:

Paul Allen vs. Apple, Google, Facebook, eBay, AOL, Netflix, Yahoo, Google's YouTube, OfficeMax, Office Depo...