Billionaire Paul Allen Begins Patent Blitz: Sues Major Internet Players for Patent Infringement
Microsoft co-founder, Paul Allen, filed suit in the United States District Court for the Western District of Washington against eleven well known companies alleging that their technology violates a number of patents that Mr. Allen owns. The Wall Street Journal reported that the world’s 37th richest man brought the suit against AOL, Apple, eBay, Facebook, Google, Netflix, Office Depot, OfficeMax, Staples, Yahoo!, and YouTube seeking damages and injunctive relief.
The four patents mentioned in the suit: 6,263,507, 6,034,652, 6,788,314, and 6,757,682 cover widely used internet technology and were granted to Interval Research Corporation between 2000 and 2004. According to the complaint, Mr. Allen and David Liddle founded Interval Research Corporation in 1992, “employed over 110 of the world’s leading scientists, physicists, and engineers” and lead the “forefront in designing next-generation science and technology.” Interval Research Corporation has since been dissolved, but the patents are still owned by Mr. Allen’s Interval Licensing LLC.
This suit by Interval Licensing continues a trend of high stakes patent litigation by patent owners who do not actually practice their patents. In 2006, the patent holding company NTP received $612.5 million in a settlement from Research In Motion Ltd., the makers of BlackBerry mobile devices. In July, NTP filed a similar suit against Apple, Microsoft, Google, HTC, LG, and Motorola. While patent owners can assert their rights without practicing their patents, doing so is controversial; and those who are involved in this practice are commonly referred to as “patent trolls.”
Several of the companies named in the Interval Licensing suit have indicated their readiness to defend the infringement claims. A copy of the complaint can be found here.