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Paul Allen's lawsuit against Apple, Google dismissed

Judge dismisses charges against companies also including Facebook, Yahoo, and Netflix for not being specific enough. But Allen's team says it will refile.

A patent lawsuit brought against Apple, Google, and other prominent high-tech companies by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen earlier this year has been dismissed for being too vague.

Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen

Calling the allegations in the lawsuit "spartan," U.S. District Judge Marsha Pechman said in dismissing the case that Allen had until December 28 to refile the case, according to a report on the Web site of The Wall Street Journal. Allen's team said it would meet the deadline and called the judge's ruling a "procedural issue."

The lawsuit, filed by Allen's firm Interval Licensing, named Apple, Google, Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, eBay, Netflix, Office Depot, OfficeMax, and Staples as violating patents that Allen received while leading Interval Research, a company that is now out of business.

Microsoft isn't among the defendants, even though it developed the Bing search technology.

In a press release issued by Allen when the lawsuit was first filed, the patents were described as covering "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 patents being disputed in the lawsuit are:

  • No. 6,263,507, "Browser for Use in Navigating a Body of Information, With Particular Application to Browsing Information Represented By Audiovisual Data."
  • 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."
  • No. 6,757,682, "Alerting Users to Items of Current Interest."

The case was filed in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington, in Seattle.