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Paul Allen sues over patents

Paul Allen sues over patents

Paul Allen - the one on the left - is suing several companies for alleged patent infringement.

Paul Allen, co-founder of Microsoft, is suing some of the biggest names on the net - claiming that they are willfully violating patents held by his new company, Interval Research.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Allen is targeting some pretty deep pockets with his latest lawsuit - including Google, Facebook, and eBay - which alleges that patents develop for and held by his company Interval Research are being infringed by the defendants' sites.

Targeting eleven companies in total, the suit alleges that each violates one or more patents - developed ten years ago - and is demanding damages plus ongoing royalty payments for the claimed infringement.

His targets are, as you can imagine, not exactly convinced by Allen's claims: a Google spokesman has stated that "[Allen's] 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," while other companies named in the suit have vowed to fight rather than settle.

The patents in question are thought to cover some fairly basic functionality for modern websites, including financial sites that feature stock tracking pop-up windows, news sites which include automatically generated links to related articles, and sites which host videos outside the main content frame.

Unlike many similar cases, which usually feature holding companies which buy up vast swathes of patents in the hope of bringing a suit against a well-heeled target in the future, Allen's claims have one thing going for them: the patents in question were developed specifically for Interval Research, rather than having been bought from a third part for litigious reasons. However, the fact that Allen's company no longer produces anything - and has never appeared to make use of the patented technology itself - could spell trouble.

Do you think that Paul Allen has a chance to take on the big boys and win, or is this just another case of why software patents simply don't work? Share your thoughts over in the forums.

22 Comments

Discuss in the forums Reply
RichCreedy 30th August 2010, 10:44 Quote
if he has registered a patent and never done anything with it, then i think he is a patent troll
deathtaker27 30th August 2010, 11:24 Quote
this will backfire as he has never used them, and has not said anything for 10 years.
mattbailey 30th August 2010, 11:33 Quote
This is Bit-Tech's 'latest news'? Must be a slow weekend, this was on the BBC website 48 hours ago!!
capnPedro 30th August 2010, 11:44 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by RichCreedy
if he has registered a patent and never done anything with it, then i think he is a patent troll

I wonder how many patents he actually has. And if any of them are worded "*general activity* BUT ON THE INTERNETS!!!"?
Quote:
Originally Posted by mattbailey
This is Bit-Tech's 'latest news'? Must be a slow weekend, this was on the BBC website 48 hours ago!!

Bit-Tech don't work weekends. Are you volunteering to pay someone to stay in the office?
Hustler 30th August 2010, 11:45 Quote
Oh dear me....

Is he down to his last Billion or something....?

Of course acting like a cxxx, is how people get rich in the first place.....
memeroot 30th August 2010, 12:17 Quote
US patent 6034652 : "Attention manager for occupying the peripheral attention of a person in the vicinity of a display device". View Patent Landscape Map.
US patent 6788314 : "Attention manager for occupying the peripheral attention of a person in the vicinity of a display device (continuation)". View Patent Landscape Map.
US patent 6263507 : "Browser for use in navigating a body of information, with particular application to browsing information represented by audiovisual data". View Patent Landscape Map.
US patent 6757682 : "Alerting users to items of current interest". View Patent Landscape Map.
RichCreedy 30th August 2010, 12:31 Quote
patent system need changing
ed_456 30th August 2010, 12:51 Quote
Maybe he needs the money for a new beard trimmer.
Mraedis 30th August 2010, 13:35 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by memeroot
patent crap

How much more general can it get? :(

"Application for viewing colours" <- I should totaly file that patent.
Pete J 30th August 2010, 13:48 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by RichCreedy
patent system need changing

Right on!
memeroot 30th August 2010, 14:19 Quote
@Mraedis

If you look at the actual patents then some resolve to lookups against tables.
US patent 675768
person enquires about product A, system looks to see if company is interested in product A, if so system alerts company.

if this is a patentable idea then a heck of a lot of code would have to be re-written
glaeken 30th August 2010, 15:16 Quote
This guy is still alive? I thought Patrick Bateman killed him with an axe to the face years ago...





I'll be leaving now
Almightyrastus 30th August 2010, 16:55 Quote
Generalisation is the whole point with writing patents, you make a first claime such as:

1, A device for entering text into a computer

Then add:

2, As point 1, plus using buttons
3, As points 1 and 2, buttons having letters on
4, as points 1, 2 and 3 buttons also having numbers

and so it goes on, narrowing things down each time, that way if anyone tries to develop a new method of entering text that doesn't use lettered or number buttons, or buttons at all, they still get caught by the first very broad claim.

It sucks to have it done that way but such is the nature of patent law (something which I am, by no means an expert in)
Thorton Reed 30th August 2010, 17:17 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by capnPedro
I wonder how many patents he actually has. And if any of them are worded "*general activity* BUT ON THE INTERNETS!!!"?



Bit-Tech don't work weekends. Are you volunteering to pay someone to stay in the office?

I'll stay for free. Though you must never ask what happens at the weekends. NEVER.
Zinfandel 30th August 2010, 19:29 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by capnPedro
I wonder how many patents he actually has. And if any of them are worded "*general activity* BUT ON THE INTERNETS!!!"?



Bit-Tech don't work weekends. Are you volunteering to pay someone to stay in the office?

How hard is it to write a small article and update the site? Hell, I'd do it for free.
mattbailey 30th August 2010, 21:03 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by capnPedro


Bit-Tech don't work weekends. Are you volunteering to pay someone to stay in the office?

But they work a bank holiday - where's the logic in that? :D
compmodder 31st August 2010, 04:58 Quote
he definitely sounds like a patent troll just like the guy who is suing clothing companies for using the phrase "yo mamma"
Unknownsock 31st August 2010, 12:33 Quote
Is it just me or are 99.9% of software patents just pointless?

If i could go back in time i should make a patent, search engine with the ability to create lists of a specific criterea's based on the input entered by the user. I'd be rich!
gnutonian 31st August 2010, 21:21 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Unknownsock
Is it just me or are 99.9% of software patents just pointless?

If i could go back in time i should make a patent, search engine with the ability to create lists of a specific criterea's based on the input entered by the user. I'd be rich!
Software patents should not exist. Programming is basically a derivate of mathemathics, and should not be able to be patented.

"Patent Absurdity" is a short film about software patents (you can watch it via patentabsurdity.com if you want) has a nice segment of a guy explaining the patented eHarmony "match-making" mathemathical formula. It's basically a simple matrix... which now, in essence (luckily only in the USA ;)), is patented.

The patent system was implemented to encourage innovation, but nowadays - and especially in regards to software patents - it's mostly used by patent trolls trying to make some easy money. It needs a serious overhaul (and software patents need to be forbidden/never implemented in the EU) if we want to get out of this ridiculous situation.
RichCreedy 31st August 2010, 22:53 Quote
i dont think software patents are valid in the uk/eu. software comes under copyright.
gnutonian 31st August 2010, 23:15 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by RichCreedy
i dont think software patents are valid in the uk/eu. software comes under copyright.
The patents are indeed not valid here.

New Zealand has recently rejected the idea of software patents, and so should the EU when (not if) the subject comes up. For now, you can infringe on any US software patent outside of the US as much as you like ("infringing" here means "writing software" ;)).
tank_rider 31st August 2010, 23:28 Quote
All this coming from a guy who made his millions by stealing another companies idea! I guess that's why he patented every idea he had!
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