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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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.

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.

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.

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

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.

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...

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

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.

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.

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 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.

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.

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.

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

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