Microsoft co-founder Allen sues Google, Facebook and Apple

27 Aug 2010

The billionaire co-founder of Microsoft Paul Allen has begun patent litigation against Google, Apple and nine other technology companies on the basis they are alleged to be using technology used by his now defunct Interval Research Corp.

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

He is now suing Google, Facebook, Apple, eBay, AOL, Netflix, Office Depot, OfficeMax, Staples Inc and YouTube.

Allen’s suit via Interval Licensing LLC 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.

The move comes amid a rise in successful patent litigation suits as exemplified by NTP which settled a US$612.5m suit against Research in Motion over the use of email delivery in BlackBerry phones. NTP is currently taking a case against Apple, Google, Microsoft, HTC, LG and Motorola over alleged breach of email-related patents.

Facebook says it will vigorously defend itself against the claims by Allen’s Interval Licensing LLC.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years