Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen's firm Interval Licensing LLC has decided to re-launch a patent-infringement lawsuit against some of country's biggest tech companies, including Apple and Google. That comes despite the original lawsuit's dismissal earlier in December.
In the wake of that dismissal, Judge Marsha J. Pechman, of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington at Seattle, demanded that Allen's legal counsel revise the lawsuit by Dec. 28. Specifically, Pechman asked for more detailed allegations; the new case (No. C10-1385 MJP) indeed seems to delve more deeply into the defendants' supposed patent violations.
Allen's original lawsuit, filed Aug. 27, claimed violations of patents developed by his Interval Research Corp., a technology incubator. In addition to Apple and Google, other companies in the crosshairs include AOL, eBay, Facebook, Yahoo, Office Depot, OfficeMax, YouTube and Staples. The four patents in question involve technologies related to e-commerce and online browsing, such as online user alerts and ways for drawing users' attention to a nearby screen. Microsoft is not named in the lawsuit.
"Paul thinks this is important, not just to him but to the researchers at Interval who created this technology," a spokesperson for Allen told The Wall Street Journal Aug. 27. "We recognize that innovation has a value, and patents are a way to reflect that."
Paul Allen co-founded Microsoft with Bill Gates in 1975, after the two saw an article in Popular Electronics about the MITS (Micro Instrumentation and Telemetry Systems) Altair 8800 and decided to develop a programming language, Altair BASIC, which could operate on it. However, Allen resigned as a Microsoft executive in 1983 after being diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.
Following successful treatment for the disease, Allen invested in a number of ventures, including sports teams such as the Portland Trail Blazers and Seattle Seahawks, as well as Interval Research in 1992. Before shutting down in 2000, Interval managed to file some 300 patents, which Interval Licensing now owns.
Allen's lawsuit argues that Interval Research, in addition to evolving "into one of the preeminent technology firms" with "over 110 of the world's leading scientists, physicists, engineers, artists and journalists," contributed materially to other projects. "Interval Research served as an outside collaborator to and provided research funding for Sergey Brin and Lawrence Page's research that resulted in Google," according to the suit.
In November 2009, Allen was again diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, which targets the body's network of lymph nodes. He underwent a course of chemotherapy after which a spokesperson reported he "currently has no medical issues."