Paul Allen sues Apple, Facebook, Google and eight others over patents

Paul Allen, co-founder of Microsoft, has sued Apple, Facebook, Google and eight other companies for infringing on his patents, according to the Wall Street Journal.

The patents, filed over a decade ago, are not targeting major corporations for infringement. Although Mr. Allen never actually developed any of the technology himself, he owns all of the patents listed in the lawsuit.

The accused in the lawsuit includes AOL, Apple, eBay, Facebook, Netflix, Office Depot, OfficeMax, Staples, Yahoo and YouTube, which is owned by Google. The suit, filed by Mr. Allen, violates four of his patents, one of which allows a site to offer suggestions related to items that the consumer is viewing on a web site. Many websites, including Amazon.com, which was not mentioned in the lawsuit, use this technology to help sell related products.

The second patent allows readers to view related stories to the one they are currently reading, something which many websites offer as a functionality to readers, for additional reading. The other two patents enable ads, stock quotes, news updates, or video images to flash on a computer screen, based on the user's main activity.

The lawsuits didn't mention an amount for the damages, but in 2006, Research In Motion, maker of the BlackBerry, settled a dispute with a Virginia-based firm for $612.5 million over a patent that allows wireless delivery of an email to a cellphone.

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all these patent fiasco are based on human nature: selfishness.
com'on. it's what capitalism is built upon.

Yes...software should never be patentable. I am sure people enjoy doing work for nothing, as this would be the case in a "patentless" world. People need to research why systems exist before they make remarks that question their level of intelligence.

Every major corp has a fleet of Lawyers for this sole purpose. I am trying to imagine all these fleets of lawyers now joining hands to go up against Paul Allen. would be interesting you to see how it goes down.

This reminds me about the Man that owns the patent for the wheelbarrow.

He never invented it, he just patented it.

Everytime a heelbarrow is sold, he gets paid for having the idea of buying the patent.

This is absurd, and just another example of why software ideas should not be patentable... It does nothing but hurt the consumer and restrict advancement...

this just shows that Patents are stupid and only cause problems and they hold back development and innovation. Windows7even i agree totaly with you. there should be a lawsuit that would sue those who have patents to force their hand and force them to play ball with the rest. if i wanted to patent something i would patent owning a computer and sue those who own one ROFL.

I'm all for protecting something that you created, but patenting something that (at the time) was a concept then squatting on it for 10 years then claim multiple breaches is basically a legal crime (An oxymoron, I know).

I'm all for Microsoft, but not for underhanded tactics like this. I hope he loses the lawsuit.

P.S. On a lighter note. I patented the 'Forum' Idea. Lawsuits will commence shortly.

People love to hate on patents, but it's downright uncivilized to be opposed to owning one's ideas. The concept of owning and being credited for invention is one of the great driving forces of the industrial revolution. Sharing and hugging and contributing for the good of society never advanced any culture ever, in the history of mankind.

Sorry hippies.

/people invent for money or fame. take away both and people stop inventing.
//necessity hasn't been the mother of invention in about 300 years

When did that patent get filed? Because Amazon have been doing this since 1998 (according to web archive). If it wasn't before that, then there is clear prior art. Seriously, something as simple as this must have prior art somewhere...

Not only is this irksome as these are features used across many sites. Think of how many blogs use this, all the blog plugins to help enable it, etc.

What's also interesting with the idea of the patents being filed 10 years ago is the fact that, from my memory, most of this (with the web at least) wasn't really possible. It's very strange and sudden to do this... pretty annoying.

I'm hoping he loses, seems like his patents are crap.

“ He might as well sue the entire U.S. business establishment. There is a level of obviousness to these so-called "innovations", that they've become ubiquitous. Another reason to ban software patents. ”

- Cary Scofield

There should be some law that if you never used the patent for 10 years then its not yours ! or at least you lose the right to defend it.

Patents are bull****. Honestly. You know how many websites use this "system" of data-viewing that he is claiming to own patents to. Almost every website uses this system..."Stories you may be interested in...".

Intellectual property shouldn't be "owned" by anyone if you ask me. If every little thing was to be patented we would never be able to develop over older inventions and technologies.

This is stupid.

My personal opinion is the "use it or lose" it idea.

Give a company 3 years to implement a patent, if there are problems allow say a one year extension (which would need to be approved by the patent office) and unlimited extensions all scrutinised by the patent office.

If you're just sitting on a patent then use or lose.

Why did Mr Allen take 10 years to decide to sue, this could have been settled 8-9 years ago (albeit at massive detriment to the Internet community had he won.)

boo_star said,
My personal opinion is the "use it or lose" it idea.

Give a company 3 years to implement a patent, if there are problems allow say a one year extension (which would need to be approved by the patent office) and unlimited extensions all scrutinised by the patent office.

If you're just sitting on a patent then use or lose.

Why did Mr Allen take 10 years to decide to sue, this could have been settled 8-9 years ago (albeit at massive detriment to the Internet community had he won.)

I think it should be 10 years with a one time 5 year extention. It can take a lot of time to get something from idea to the store shelves or wherever else. That gives them enough time to do all the R&D they'd need to get it done. If they can't, then they get the one time extension. It does seem like awhile for a lot of things what would probably go through there but then there a still a lot that would probably think that's no where near enough time. I think that's reasonable. I, at the moment, don't even know what it is now if any. I'll be checking though.

dogmai said,

I think it should be 10 years with a one time 5 year extention. It can take a lot of time to get something from idea to the store shelves or wherever else. That gives them enough time to do all the R&D they'd need to get it done. If they can't, then they get the one time extension. It does seem like awhile for a lot of things what would probably go through there but then there a still a lot that would probably think that's no where near enough time. I think that's reasonable. I, at the moment, don't even know what it is now if any. I'll be checking though.

OK, my 3 year example was a little extreme, maybe 5 years would be better.


That said they should have to prove they are actually building a product and not sitting on it so as soon as an affluent company has the same idea then sue the helll out of them.

I think the biggest issue is this.

Patents were designed to offer protection for a *limited* time to allow for innovation but not long enough to prevent said entity from "sitting" on them and stop being innovative / stifle innovation. Along the way, this stopped working.

What also muddles the patent system it was designed (vetting, etc) for mechanical process and been adapted to non-mechanical process causing a lot of patent w/ prior art to get a patent then go through the process of having to be invalidated.

"The suit, filed by Mr. Allen, violates four of his patents, one of which allows a site to offer suggestions related to items that the consumer is viewing on a web site."

This can't be serious. How such a generic idea can be patented ?

I should have patented chat timestamp 10 years ago i would be rich

Oh bloody hell. All you hear in the news these days is people doing nothing but sue sue sue over these minor concepts. [End of mini-rant]

One day im going to patent the "Lawsuit" act.....so if you sue someone, you have to pay me because you sued without my permission....and lol.. xD

COKid said,
I like Microsoft, but I have my doubts on this one.

I believe he is suing as a private citizen...he left microsoft many years ago.

jandler said,

I believe he is suing as a private citizen...he left microsoft many years ago.

Yeah, he founded Microsoft, but he left it later. I thought I read somewhere that he did something in the automobile business later but I don't remember.

shakey said,
I'm going to patent making up ideas to patent. that will show all of you!

loooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooool
straight to the point

shakey said,
I'm going to patent making up ideas to patent. that will show all of you!

except that this is the first time you stated that as your idea, and since people have been doing it since before you stated it, they could easily take that patent away from you.

ILikeTobacco said,

except that this is the first time you stated that as your idea, and since people have been doing it since before you stated it, they could easily take that patent away from you.


Furthermore he mentioned his idea in public before requesting the patent -> no way this is going to be approved...

MFH said,

Furthermore he mentioned his idea in public before requesting the patent -> no way this is going to be approved...

He better watch himself. Someone probably already patented it and he'll soon be the one getting sued.

shakey said,
I'm going to patent making up ideas to patent. that will show all of you!

dogmai said,

He better watch himself. Someone probably already patented it and he'll soon be the one getting sued.

Lol. +1 to both.

He probably needs the money seeing as his latest venture Charter communications (Piece of **** isp) almost went bankrupt not too long ago.

TRC said,
"Although Mr. Allen never actually developed any of the technology himself"

Use it or lose it.


Don't have to invent it to patent it^^

MFH said,

Don't have to invent it to patent it^^

Exactly! Paul Allen is not listed as the inventor of ANY of these patents, just look it up yourself:


The patents covered by the lawsuit are:
-- U.S. Patent No. 6,263,507, for "Browser for Use in Navigating a Body of Information, With Particular Application to Browsing Information Represented By Audiovisual Data."
-- U.S. Patent No. 6,034,652, for "Attention Manager for Occupying the Peripheral Attention of a Person in the Vicinity of a Display Device."
-- U.S. Patent No. 6,788,314, for "Attention Manager for Occupying the Peripheral Attention of a Person in the Vicinity of a Display Device."
-- U.S. Patent No. 6,757,682, for "Alerting Users to Items of Current Interest."

A Patent should be limited to the inventors only. Making it possible to buy and sell patents does not promote innovation at all, it just makes it easier for big business to hit back at a competitor when they cannot beat them in the marketplace.

What's wrong with defending your intellectual property? Isn't that what the patent's there for? Perhaps the real disagreement is that something like this could be patented in the first place. How does a lawsuit violate a patent, anyways...?

I personally would like to see all these companies get owned, given that they pull this **** all the time, except they sue much smaller companies into oblivion.

spenser.d said,
I personally would like to see all these companies get owned, given that they pull this **** all the time, except they sue much smaller companies into oblivion.

Isn't it the other way around?

Small company sits on patent for years and when the product is successful, sue the hell out of them?

boo_star said,

Isn't it the other way around?

Small company sits on patent for years and when the product is successful, sue the hell out of them?


How ca you "sit on patents" for years? They expire after a certain amount of time!

MFH said,

How ca you "sit on patents" for years? They expire after a certain amount of time!

Last I checked, patents are good for years. If they weren't doing anything with it and then someone made something big using it, of course you're gonna do something about it. It's gotta be worth going after them. They're not just gonna go after someone because they made a few thousand from it. They have to wait to see if it's worth the fight. Too many variables to list.

My point is that if they have a patent and someone comes up and does something with it before it expires, you're not gonna leave it because you're not doing anything with it.

It depends on whether or not he has just acquired them, or has a reasonable excuse for the delay. Maybe he's been in negotiation with these parties for years, and they have only recently broken down.

Basically, we need a lot more information before we can determine how valid this case is.

Mr. Spontaneous said,
It depends on whether or not he has just acquired them, or has a reasonable excuse for the delay. Maybe he's been in negotiation with these parties for years, and they have only recently broken down.

Basically, we need a lot more information before we can determine how valid this case is.

+1

Mr. Spontaneous said,
It depends on whether or not he has just acquired them, or has a reasonable excuse for the delay. Maybe he's been in negotiation with these parties for years, and they have only recently broken down.

Basically, we need a lot more information before we can determine how valid this case is.

Common sense has no place on the Internet.
/s

sounds like he hasn't been defending his IP anyway. hopefully it'll get thrown out like these kinds of patent squatting suits should.

treemonster said,
sounds like he hasn't been defending his IP anyway. hopefully it'll get thrown out like these kinds of patent squatting suits should.
+1, isn't there something about if you don't enforce your patent for so long that it becomes invalid

Rudy said,
+1, isn't there something about if you don't enforce your patent for so long that it becomes invalid
Think that applies to copyright not sure about patents.

svnO.o said,
Think that applies to copyright not sure about patents.

it is impossible to lose your copyright because you can't have a copyright on something that doesnt exist. if you no longer have copyright to something you made, it is because you sold it or gave it away. otherwise, it belongs to you until the day you die and then a bit longer after that if provisions are taken to hand it over to your family.

Rudy said,
+1, isn't there something about if you don't enforce your patent for so long that it becomes invalid
Well they could have only recently begun to violate them and he may have very well been in private negotiations before trying to do anything about them.

ILikeTobacco said,

it is impossible to lose your copyright because you can't have a copyright on something that doesnt exist. if you no longer have copyright to something you made, it is because you sold it or gave it away. otherwise, it belongs to you until the day you die and then a bit longer after that if provisions are taken to hand it over to your family.


You can't give away copyright - at least in the EU! You can just grant parties (limited) usage OR the right to do whatever they want with your work. However you decide the copyright is NEVER taken away from you! Currently in the EU it takes about 70 years after your death before the work becomes public domain...

MFH said,

Currently in the EU it takes about 70 years after your death before the work becomes public domain...

Same in the US. 70 years after your death, the copyright expires and its free for all to enjoy.

I'm sure that in the US you can let others use your copyright with your permission (but what do I know?) . Without permission, it's pretty much copyright infringement.

MFH said,

You can't give away copyright - at least in the EU! You can just grant parties (limited) usage OR the right to do whatever they want with your work. However you decide the copyright is NEVER taken away from you! Currently in the EU it takes about 70 years after your death before the work becomes public domain...

didnt know about the 70 years after, but regardless thanks for clarifying and it just solidifies my point to the post i was commenting on.

I'm going to patent something, sit on it for 10 years or so, then sue for a crap load of cash. Is that what people are doing nowadays?

netwokz said,
I'm going to patent something, sit on it for 10 years or so, then sue for a crap load of cash. Is that what people are doing nowadays?

That's what people did 100 years ago, nothings changed

neufuse said,

That's what people did 100 years ago, nothings changed

Actually patent's expire quicker then that, then anyone can use the invention.

etempest said,
Actually patent's expire quicker then that, then anyone can use the invention.
Patent expiry has nothing to do with what he said.

etempest said,

Actually patent's expire quicker then that, then anyone can use the invention.

He didn't say they do that after 100 years, just that they did it like that 100 years ago. You'll always have people doing that.

etempest said,

Actually patent's expire quicker then that, then anyone can use the invention.

Patents don't expire quicker or anything. It depends on the country you are in. In the US patents expire after 17 years. Patent expiration = the invention becomes common knowledge, so nobody needs to pay the inventor for the invention.