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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