In August, Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen mounted a surprise offensive against an all-star cast of defendants. The industrialist and philanthropist filed suit against tech giants Apple, Google, AOL, eBay, Facebook, Netflix, YouTube, and many more for patent infringement. But today his hopes of adding some much-needed cash to his estimated $12.7 billion bank account were dashed after a judged dismissed his wide-ranging lawsuit.
Filed in U.S. District Court by Interval Research, a Palo Alto-R&D lab Allen founded in the late 1990s, the suit sought damages over several patent violations but was dismissed for lack of specifics. The suit referenced four violated patents that covered e-commerce and search engine technology.
Judge Marsha Pechman said in her ruling that Interval "failed to identify the infringing products or devices with any specificity." Not that it would be difficult to identify products or devices—but it certainly would be time consuming.
Although they may have seemed novel at the time, the patents are incredibly vague and all-encompassing. For example, one patent refers to the technology that allows a website to "offer suggestions to consumers for items related to what they're currently viewing." Where to begin? Amazon, Zappos, Gilt Groupe, Walmart, Target—the list is endless.
But that doesn't mean Allen's suit is finished. The court is giving Interval until December 28 to file an amended complaint, and a spokesman for Allen said the judge's ruling was a "procedural issue" and that the "case is staying on track."
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