Paul Allen, entrepreneur and co-founder of Microsoft, has filed a lawsuit against 11 companies for infringements on his Web search patents. The suit names Apple, Google, Facebook, Netflix, YouTube, and Microsoft partner Yahoo as defendants for violating four Interval Licensing LLC patents, though the court will likely have to weigh whether the patents in question are "obvious" or not.
The infringing patents have three main concepts in question: browser use for finding and looking through information, keeping a user's peripheral attention while using a device and letting users know of items of current interest. Basically, this is revolving around the idea of presenting searched-for information to a user along with related news articles, music, videos, status updates from friends or stock and weather info.
For more on what's going on here, follow the break.
Obviously, lots of Internet companies use these kinds of concepts, including Microsoft. Interval, the company founded by Allen in 1992, has gone on record to identify itself as a "ground-breaking contributor to the development of the Internet economy" and says all it wants to do is "protect (its) investment in innovation." Funny thing is, Interval doesn't actually produce any actual product. Regardless, spokesperson David Postman truly believes that Interval is defending concepts that are not really universal among search engines and web browsers. Instead, Postman is pretty much saying that these things wouldn't even exist if Interval hadn't created them.
We are not asserting patents that other companies have filed, nor are we buying patents originally assigned to someone else. These are patents developed by and for Interval.
Google, you know, the Good Samaritan company, responded to the lawsuit in an attacking way, saying the lawsuit is using the patent system to work against innovation and not for it.
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. Innovation - not litigation - is the way to bring to market the kinds of products and services that benefit millions of people around the world.
Very interesting move by Allen. Why did it take so long for these patents to come into question, long after hundreds of popular companies are using them worldwide? Most signs point to the money and the greed, but we will see if the courts will even uphold this.