Microsoft's Paul Allen Sues Apple, Google, Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, YouTube, and Your Mom

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Paul Allen: billionaire, philanthropist, industrialist, Microsoft co-founder...litigator.

Today Allen, who rocketed to fortune with Bill Gates, filed suit against Apple, Google, AOL, eBay, Facebook...breathe, breathe...Netflix, Yahoo, YouTube, and others for patent infringement. The lawsuit's defendant list reads like an all-star roster of one of the many professional sport's teams owned by Allen, who claims the tech-company heavyweights have violated patents developed by Interval Research, a Palo Alto-R&D lab he founded with $100 million in the 1990s.

Allen still owns many of the 300 patents developed by the now-defunct research firm. The Wall Street Journal reports that a team of lawyers has been reviewing his patent portfolio for years, examining which companies violated them--and it appears pretty much all of them have.

The suit itself references four violated patents, including e-commerce and search engine technology. But the patents are also very vague and standard-sounding, though they may have been novel when first patented. For example, one patent covers the technology behind allowing a website to "offer suggestions to consumers for items related to what they're currently viewing." Sound familiar? That's Amazon shopping 101.

But neither Amazon nor Microsoft were named in the suit. Why? According to the WSJ, Allen remains a large shareholder in Microsoft, and since Amazon is based in his hometown of Seattle, he may be less likely to sue.

Allen's net worth is estimated at $13.5 billion, and he's pledged to give away the majority of his wealth in the coming years, continuing his history of philanthropy.

And perhaps after this lawsuit, he'll become even more philanthropic.

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4 Comments

  • Morgan Barnhart

    If they've violated them, then he has just cause, but I just wonder why now?

  • Hotrao

    I don't question on his supposed rights. I only say 20 years have passed (because patents are from the 90's) and companies are well known and of same secto Mr. Allen is working form the beginning. Isn't a bit surprising and late in acting at this time?

  • Sean

    Can we develop some new acronyms, as in order to make the reporting of this kind of news more expedient, for its frequent occurrence, lately?

    YAPIL - Yet Another Patent Infringement Lawsuit
    YAPT - Yet Another Patent Troll

    I'm not one to criticize the national patent infrastructure, for how it serves what was the original purpose of it - to quote the Constitution of the United States of America, Article 1, Section 8, Clause 8: "To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts", I simply fail to believe that every lawsuit in this recent patent-infringement filings trend has been aligned with that same purpose.