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Internet

Microsoft hit with real estate suit

A Florida man alleges the software giant violated patented technology that helps home seekers to locate real estate properties for sale.

A Florida man has filed a civil lawsuit against Microsoft, alleging the software giant infringed on patented technology that helps home seekers locate real estate properties for sale.

The plaintiff, Mark Tornetta, has charged Microsoft and Grand Island, New York-based Moore USA with ignoring his patent, and is seeking royalties from both companies' real estate Web sites.

The suit states that Tornetta registered a U.S. patent in 1991 for a "procedure that enables prospective home buyers to 'drill down' to find and locate available properties, and permits them to obtain detailed information about specific houses for sale," according to a statement issued by Tornetta's attorney.

Microsoft's MSN HomeAdvisor, and Moore's CyberHomes are some of the most heavily trafficked real estate guides. Tornetta alleged in his statement that the two Web sites have profited heavily off of Tornetta's technology.

Tornetta is seeking to halt operations of the two Web sites until the issue is resolved. He also is seeking financial reparation for profits royalties allegedly lost.

"Microsoft and Moore have deliberately chosen to ignore his rights, despite our efforts to reach agreements with them," said Tornetta's attorney, Lawrence Husick of Lipton, Weinberger & Husick, in a statement. "We are asking the court to send a message that multibillion dollar companies may not intentionally disregard the rights of small inventors like Mr. Tornatta."

Miscrosoft denied that it had infringed on Tornetta's patent. "We do not believe we are infringing on any patent claims," Pilla said.

Today's suit comes at a time when Internet patents are being granted in greater numbers--and Internet sites are starting to make money. The combination has naturally resulted in more lawsuits.