Microsoft co-founder Allen loses first round of patents case

13 Dec 2010

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The first round of billionaire co-founder of Microsoft Paul Allen’s patent infringement lawsuit against Apple, Google and Facebook and others has been dismissed by a judge.

In August, Allen began patent litigation against Google, Apple and nine other technology companies – including eBay, AOL, Netflix, Office Depot, OfficeMax, Staples Inc and YouTube – on the basis they are alleged to have been using technology used by his now-defunct Interval Research Corp.

Allen founded Interval during the dot.com boom with US$100m of his own money.

However, a district court in Seattle sided with Google and dismissed the case on the basis that Allen’s claims were "too vague" and lacked adequate factual detail to satisfy the dictates of two cases considered precedents for requiring adequate evidence to support a claim, Iqbal and Twombly.

Allen’s case

Allen’s case relates to four alleged violations of technology considered to be a key component of these companies, including the ability for an e-commerce site to offer suggestions to consumers based on content they are viewing or the online activities of others.

A second patent relates to the ability to allow readers of a news story to quickly locate stories related to a particular subject.

The other patents relate to enabling ads, stock quotes, news updates and video to appear on a screen alongside other content a user is focused on.

Allen has until 28 December to return to the court with a more specific complaint.

Editor John Kennedy is an award-winning technology journalist.

editorial@siliconrepublic.com