Microsoft Co-Founder's Firm Sues Apple and Others in Patent Dispute

144307 paul allen

The Wall Street Journal reports that Interval Licensing, a patent licensing firm run by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen and designed to protect the intellectual property of Allen's former technology incubator company Interval Research Corporation, has filed suit against Apple and ten other companies over several patents related to e-commerce and Web search technologies.

Mr. 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, Amazon.com Inc. or other technology firms in Seattle where Mr. Allen is based. The suit doesn't estimate a damage amount.

According to a press release issued by Interval Licensing, four patents are at stake in the lawsuit:

- United States Patent No. 6,263,507 issued for an invention entitled "Browser for Use in Navigating a Body of Information, With Particular Application to Browsing Information Represented By Audiovisual Data."
- United States Patent No. 6,034,652 issued for an invention entitled "Attention Manager for Occupying the Peripheral Attention of a Person in the Vicinity of a Display Device."
- United States Patent No. 6,788,314 issued for an invention entitled "Attention Manager for Occupying the Peripheral Attention of a Person in the Vicinity of a Display Device."
- United States Patent No. 6,757,682 issued for an invention entitled "Alerting Users to Items of Current Interest."

The press release claims that the technologies are "fundamental" to the operation of leading e-commerce and search companies and the firm is merely looking to protect its own investments in innovation. According to The Wall Street Journal, the lawsuit marks a major shift for Allen in his increasingly aggressive efforts to protect the intellectual property developed at Interval Research during the 1990s.

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