Sunday, August 29, 2010

Paul Allen Sues Google, Yahoo, Facebook, Others Over Patents

An article on "Search Engine Land" says that Paul Allen Sues some high powered companies.

Paul Allen, the Microsoft co-founder and one of the richest men on earth, has filed a patent infringement suit today against several Internet titans, the Wall Street Journal reports.

The lawsuit centers on technology developed a decade ago by Interval Research Corp., a technology lab that Allen owned between 1992 and 2000. Eleven companies are named in the lawsuit: Google, Yahoo, Facebook, AOL, eBay, YouTube, NetFlix, Office Depot, OfficeMax, and Staples. The lawsuit claims four patent violations of technologies that are widely used by search engines and e-commerce sites, according to the WSJ:

The technology behind one patent allows a site to offer suggestions to consumers for items related to what they’re 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 stories 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.

A Google spokesperson gave this statement to the WSJ:

This lawsuit against some of America’s most innovative companies reflects an unfortunate trend of people trying to compete in the courtroom instead of the marketplace.

A Facebook spokesperson told the Journal, “We believe this suit is completely without merit and we will fight it vigorously.”

The lawsuit doesn’t include a damage estimate.

There’s more discussion at Techmeme.