What's a billionaire to do when he's not in the spotlight so much anymore and maybe getting a little, well... bored? Sue everyone that people are paying more attention to than you, that's what!
Interval Licensing, the company owned by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, is suing nearly every big name in tech - the lawsuit names AOL, Apple, eBay, Facebook, Google, Netflix, Office Depot, OfficeMax, Staples, Yahoo and YouTube as defendants, alleging violations of patents related to search, multimedia, database management and "screen activity" (e.g. pop-ups.)
No specifics just yet on exactly how each company violated the patents, but a release from Interval says they cover "fundamental web technologies first developed at Interval Research in the 1990s, which the company believes are being infringed by major e-commerce and web search companies."
The patents named in the suit include: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."
"Interval Research was an early, ground-breaking contributor to the development of the internet economy," said David Postman, spokesman for Paul G. Allen. "Interval has worked hard to bring its technologies to market through spinning off new companies, technology transfer arrangements, and sales of its patented technology."
According to the Interval release:
Interval Research was founded by Allen, the Microsoft co-founder, and Liddle, who developed fundamental technologies in the 1970s when he worked at Xerox PARC. Interval was a preeminent technology firm, employing over 110 scientists, physicists and engineers. Interval also helped fund outside projects, including Sergey Brin's and Lawrence Page's research that resulted in Google.
Facebook has responded through a spokesman, saying the suit is without merit.
“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 Google spokesman said in a statement.
Allen lives in Seattle and is a noted philanthropist, having committed the majority of his fortune to charity. We're so confused...