Paul Allen Files Patent Suit Against Apple, Google, Yahoo, To Name A Few

Paul Allen who is best known for helping to co-found Microsoft, is suing a number of tech companies for patent infringement:

Mr. Allen’s suit, filed in federal court in Seattle, asserts those three companies and eight others are using technology developed a decade ago at the billionaire’s now-defunct Silicon Valley laboratory. Mr. Allen, a pioneer of computer software, didn’t develop any of the technology himself but owns the patents.

The targets of the suit are a who’s who of the tech world. Apple, Google, AOL, eBay, Facebook, Netflix, Office Depot, OfficeMax, Staples, Yahoo and Google’s YouTube subsidiary are all named, and Google for one plans to fight:

“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. Other companies named in the suit said they planned to defend themselves or weren’t available to comment.

The lawsuit centers around four patents that appear to be key technologies of the operations of the companies that are being sued. Not to mention that they would be technologies of e-commerce and Internet search companies in general:

The technology behind one patent allows a site to offer suggestions to consumers for items related to what they’re currently viewing, or related to online activities of others in the case of social-networking sites.

A second, among other things, allows readers of a news story to quickly locate stories related to a particular subject. Two others enable ads, stock quotes, news updates or video images to flash on a computer screen, peripherally to a user’s main activity.

This really sounds like patent trolling to me. I am surprised that someone like Paul Allen would be behind something like this. But I guess he needs the cash, even if his lawyers are going to get a significant cut. In any case, he’ll see these companies in court.

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