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Paul Allen Files Patent Suit Against Apple, Google, Yahoo, Others 219

mewshi_nya writes "A firm run by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen filed suit alleging 11 technology companies are violating patents developed at a Silicon Valley lab that Allen financed more than a decade ago. Named in the lawsuit: Apple, Google, AOL, eBay, Facebook, Netflix, Office Depot, OfficeMax, Staples, Yahoo and Google's YouTube subsidiary. The suit doesn't name Microsoft, or other tech companies in Seattle where Allen is based, and it doesn't estimate a damage amount. The suit lists violations of four patents (PDF) for technology that appear to be key components of the operations of the companies — and that of e-commerce and Internet search companies in general."
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Paul Allen Files Patent Suit Against Apple, Google, Yahoo, Others

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  • Why now? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 27, 2010 @05:08PM (#33397874)

    For what reason has he waited all of this time to file said suit? It's not like the timing is great.... economy is still down, if he had waited a bit longer, perhaps the companies would have more money?

  • Trial by fire (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Fuseboy ( 414663 ) on Friday August 27, 2010 @05:12PM (#33397940) Homepage

    I think this is a great idea. I hope he wins, and internet search and ecommerce are shut down en masse by injunction. Whee! Then we could have a nice look at this business of patents and how we feel about them.

    I wonder, is there such a thing as an inverse class action - by which I mean, could a whole raft of internet companies join the defending side as a show of solidarity, claiming that if the current defendants are violating, then they are too?

  • Patented inventions (Score:5, Interesting)

    by roothog ( 635998 ) on Friday August 27, 2010 @05:14PM (#33397970)

    I read these patents as:
    * Patenting text summarization.
    * Patenting rating systems.

    The idea that either of those is a patentable invention is absurd. Specific algorithms to do either one, sure, but you can't patent general concepts.

  • Patents In question (Score:3, Interesting)

    by N_Piper ( 940061 ) on Friday August 27, 2010 @05:19PM (#33398030)
    TL;DR summing up
    But the first patent '507 seems to be for "browsing audiovisual data" or a web browser
    Patent '652 and '314 are patents for "Attention Manager for Occupying the Peripheral Attention of a Person in the Vicinity of a Display Device" or Advertisments.
    Patent '682 is for "Alerting Users to Items of Current Interest." or Targeted Advertisements.
    Yea you legally filed patents
    No you can't patent advertising or web browsing
    Sorry your claim is BS go back to your bridge you troll.
  • by realmolo ( 574068 ) on Friday August 27, 2010 @05:19PM (#33398034)

    If Obama and Congress want to stimulate the US (and, really, the whole world) economy, the BEST thing they could do would be to invalidate all copyrights and patents that are more than 10 years old, and abolish ALL "business practice" patents, and ALL software patents.

  • Re:Trial by fire (Score:4, Interesting)

    by mbkennel ( 97636 ) on Friday August 27, 2010 @05:50PM (#33398376)

    He owns a boatload of Microsoft stock and didn't want to sue himself AND he owns a boatload of Microsoft stock and wants to sue Microsoft's competitors.

    Seems that Simple and 'convoluted' evil can exist at the same time.

    You know, like shooting somebody after the sharks with laser beams.

  • by bpkiwi ( 1190575 ) on Friday August 27, 2010 @06:23PM (#33398712)
    It's even worse, you should have a look at the patents themselves, such as the '507 patent...
    We claim:
    1. A system for acquiring and reviewing a body of information, wherein the body of information includes a plurality of segments, each segment representing a defined set of information in the body of information, the system comprising:

    means for acquiring data representing the body of information;

    means for storing the acquired data;

    first display means for generating a display of a first segment of the body of information from data that is part of the stored data; means for comparing data representing a segment of the body of information to data representing a different segment of the body of information to determine whether, according to one or more predetermined criteria, the compared segments are related; and

    second display means for generating a display of a portion of, or a representation of, a second segment of the body of information from data that is part of the stored data, wherein the second display means displays the portion or representation of the second segment in response to the display by the first display means of a first segment to which the second segment is related.

    So .... they appear to claim they invented diff in 1996. All other claims are based from this claim. Unfortunatly for them diff was invented in the early 1970s.
  • Re:Why now? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by LynnwoodRooster ( 966895 ) on Friday August 27, 2010 @06:34PM (#33398766) Journal
    Having licensed a few of my own patents to big companies, it's very likely he's been in negotiations for 3-4 years and they finally broke down. It's not at all uncommon to take 2-3 years to negotiate a license agreement, and that usually only starts after the patent is actually issued AND the potential licensee has had 6-12 months to read and fully comprehend the issued patent.
  • Re:Why now? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by initdeep ( 1073290 ) on Friday August 27, 2010 @06:39PM (#33398810)

    no more so than El Jobso is....

    after all, His Steveness' name is on just about every patent that Apple files, yet he has very little if anything to do with the actual development of them.

    So when Apple file suit against Nokia, it's actually His Steveness that's filing in most cases since he is the patent holder and Apple is merely the Licensee.

  • Re:Why now? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by saleenS281 ( 859657 ) on Friday August 27, 2010 @09:52PM (#33400124) Homepage
    You're assuming that Microsoft doesn't already have a licensing agreement. Do you have proof of this accusation?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 28, 2010 @01:21AM (#33401104)

    This is amusing. Here's some history on the company. Interval Research was an R&D outfit that Paul Allen founded back in the 1990's. You've never heard of it, because they were incredibly secretive. So hush-hush that when they went belly-up no one outside of the company knew about it. Literally. It took months before the Press finally got wind of it.

    The place was a great place to be if you were doing research. Literally "let a thousand roses bloom". Unfortunately, they were horribly mismanaged. Allen blew hundreds of millions of dollars, mostly over budget, before he finally realized that he wasn't getting anything out it. They wanted to be the next version of SRI. Unfortunately, that didn't turn out.

    Top management was, at best, incompetent. At worse, downright crooks. They hired some people on certain terms, and then shortly afterwards said "Opps - we really meant to hire you at a lower level". Truly a boneheaded move. Fortunately it didn't happen to me, but the look on people's faces when they found out was unforgettable.

    Interval did some really amazing stuff; years ahead of its time. But they could never get the products out to market (though they tried), mostly due to amazing incompetence on the part of the lead engineers. You know the type. Big egos and no talent. Perhaps there was an exception to that rule, but I don't recall it.

    I'm not surprised that Paul Allen has turned into a Patent Troll; it will be the only way he can get his money back. The only thing surprising is that it took him so long. But he never impressed me as being the sharpest knife in the drawer. As for other history, they had a number of big names there, from many fields. In tech, you may have heard of Lee Felsenstein if you're familiar with history. Their office was in the Research area of Palo Alto. Near Stanford, down the street from the Wall Street Journal, between Page Mill and Hillview

    Despite that unfortunate ending, I still look back fondly on Interval. They paid well, too. I made lots of money off of Paul Allen. Thanks, Paul!

  • What a waste (Score:4, Interesting)

    by EjectButton ( 618561 ) on Saturday August 28, 2010 @06:10AM (#33401962)
    The guy is 57 and has $13.5 billion dollars according to Wikipedia.

    So he has more money than he could reasonably spend and has 20 years tops before his body really starts to fail him. Actually probably much less than that since it was announced in 2009 that he has been diagnosed with cancer again.
    He could do literally anything with his remaining time and resources and he has decided to spend it acting as a parasite, exploiting weak spots and loopholes in the law to do damage to society in the hopes of getting an extra billion before he drops dead. I guess his dick stopped working so this is the only way he can continue to fuck people.

    I wonder if it's the personality type that is more likely to become a billionaire, or if it's the act of spending a big chunk of your life accumulating wealth that causes these people to turn into mindless, selfish, pointless money collecting machines.
  • Re:Why now? (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 28, 2010 @07:34AM (#33402202)

    Can anybody sue the patent office?

    E.g. I'm suing the patent office because they approved a patent that had obvious prior art.
    I then had to defend myself from being sued, won based on the prior art, and now want to sue
    the office for not doing their job properly and costing me time, effort and money to defend against
    pointless patents.

    Is that possible? 'Cos it might focus their minds a little better over at the patent office .....

  • by Dolda2000 ( 759023 ) <fredrik@dolda200[ ]om ['0.c' in gap]> on Saturday August 28, 2010 @08:45AM (#33402406) Homepage

    Congress doesn't write laws. Corporate ghost writers write laws and Congress signs them.

    I guess that's what you get for not paying attention to congressional elections instead of the, in reality, completely inconsequential presidential election which instead has become the only election anyone seems to care about in the US these days. The entire reason why your founding fathers designed the electoral college system is because there's really no need to elect the president popularly -- he is merely the chief of the executive branch, whose task it is to carry out what Congress decides. You're not supposed to elect him "for his political agenda" (if anything, that's what the congressional elections are for; though I'd argue otherwise in another rant), but for his ability to lead the government. Which is why he was supposed to be elected by professional electors tasked with the elucidation of such properties in people.

    See, you're better off over there then we are here in the Democratic People's States of Europe precisely because you get to elect your congressmen personally, rather than voting for pre-selected party lists as we get to do under our varieties of proportional voting. It means that you actually can elect people on such virtues as incorruptibility and honesty, rather than the ability to climb the party ranks by spouting the party line.

    Electing a president popularly based on "political agendas" is, if anything, directly undemocratic, since it implies that the entire nation has to elect as one entity, leaving the majority with no other choice than to oppress the minority (where, of course, the "minority" is 45% or so of the people).


  • Re:Why now? (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 28, 2010 @09:10AM (#33402542)

    That's actually a good question. Given Sovereign Immunity, you'd probably have to get the federal government to give you permission before you could sue the patent office. Good luck on that. []

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