Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen decided to make technology litigation a little more interesting Aug. 27, filing patent-infringement suits against Apple, Google and nine other companies.
Allen's lawsuit claims violations of patents developed by his Interval Research Corp., a technology incubator. According to The Wall Street Journal, the other companies in Allen's crosshairs include AOL, eBay, Facebook, Netflix, Office Depot, OfficeMax, Yahoo, YouTube and Staples.
"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 Journal Aug. 27. "We recognize that innovation has a value, and patents are a way to reflect that."
The four patents apparently cover technologies related to e-commerce and online browsing, including online-user alerts and ways for drawing users' attention to a nearby screen.
Microsoft is not named in the suit.
Paul Allen co-founded Microsoft with Bill Gates in 1975, after the two saw an article in Popular Electronics about the MITS Altair 8800 and decided to develop a programming language, Altair BASIC, which would operate on it. Microsoft's corporate Website calls Altair BASIC "the first computer language program written for a personal computer." However, Allen resigned from his position as a Microsoft executive in 1983, the same year he was first diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.
After successful treatment for the disease, Allen invested in a number of business ventures, notably the Portland Trail Blazers and Seattle Seahawks sports teams. He also helped fund DreamWorks Animation and Charter Communications, a cable company that filed for Chapter 11 earlier this year. His Interval Research filed some 300 patents before shutting down in 2000.
In November 2009, Allen was again diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, a cancer of the lymphatic system, or the network of lymph nodes that help protect the body against disease. Allen underwent a course of chemotherapy, after which a spokesperson said he "currently has no medical issues."
In July, Allen announced that he plans to give the bulk of his wealth, which reportedly totals $13.5 billion, to charity after he dies.
"Today I also want to announce that my philanthropic efforts will continue after my lifetime," Allen said in a statement reprinted by Reuters July 15. "I've planned for many years now that the majority of my estate will be left to philanthropy to continue the work of [the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation] and to fund nonprofit scientific research."