Patent “War” Launched by Billionaire Allen

MSFT Founder Sues Over Web Rights –

Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen is claiming in a suit filed in filed on Friday in Seattle that patents owned by a company that he once controlled, Interval Research, are being infringed by Google, Apple, Facebook and eBay and seven others, including Staples. (A link to a copy of the complaint can be found below.)

The patents cover substantial parts of basic Internet activity such as pop-up stock quotes and videos along the side of a screen. If the validity of these broad patents is upheld they are likely worth a fortune. However, it will not be easy.

The Wall Street Journal wrote on Saturday, on p.1, “Microsoft Founder Launches Patent War.” WSJ. com in the same story said “Microsoft Co-Founder Launches Patent War.” I wonder if Bill Gates’ representatives made a frantic call to Dow Jones to reassure them that he was not doing the suing this time.

*     *     *

The timing is interesting. Allen, owner of  the Seattle Seahawks and Portland Trailblazers, was always an astute purveyor of patents through his investment arm, Vulcan, Inc..

Whether this action is merely a smart move from a billionaire investor having fun challenging Internet giants, or (once again) fundamental patents have been ignored by companies who think they’re too big or smart to pay license fees, except when they are forced to.

Seattle-based Microsoft and Amazon were not named in the suit.

It will be difficult for Forbes Four Hundred member Allen (37th at $13.5 billion)  to use the “poor inventor” defense because he lacked sufficient capital to develop his inventions.

The case isInterval Licensing LLC v. AOL Inc., 10cv1385, U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington (Seattle).

Stay tuned for more on this. The fun has just begun.

Image source: wwwwery.com (Allen is the one on the right.)

About Bruce Berman

Independent IP observer, adviser and author.

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