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Microsoft co-founder sues 11 major web companies over patents

Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen filed suit [complaint, PDF] Friday against Apple, eBay, Google [corporate websites] and eight other corporations in the US District Court for the Western District of Washington [official website], claiming the infringement of four patents related to website navigation and electronic information presentation. According to the complaint, which also names AOL, Facebook, Netflix, Office Depot, OfficeMax, Staples, Yahoo and YouTube [corporate websites], the companies misappropriated technologies patented by Allen's now defunct Interval Research Corporation and currently held by Interval Licensing, LLC. The suit charges that the 11 defendants infringed on a patent that recommends like content to users based on real-time viewing data, while all but Facebook violated another that amalgamates and analyzes audio, video and text data [USPTO materials] to perform a similar function. It further alleges that AOL, Apple, Google and Yahoo violated two additional patents, 6,034,652 and 6,788,314 [USPTO materials], that identify advertisements, news and videos to display "in a way that occupies [a user's] peripheral attention." The suit seeks injunctive relief and unspecified monetary damages.

Allen's suit comes as several of the named companies face unrelated litigation alleging misappropriation of intellectual property. Connecticut company XPRT Ventures LLC sued [JURIST report] eBay last month claiming the infringement of six patents for online auctions and payment systems. In April, a federal appeals court found that eBay is not required to actively monitor its website [JURIST report] for the sale of counterfeit goods. The ruling followed shortly after a French court ordered [JURIST report] the company to pay LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton (LVMH) [official website] damages for paying search engines to direct consumers to counterfeit LVMH products. LVMH previously secured a $63 million judgment [JURIST report] in 2008 for failing to prevent the sale of counterfeit luxury goods that infringed on registered designs. Patent holding company NTP filed suit [JURIST report] last month against Apple and Google, amongst other smart phone makers, related to the use of e-mail systems utilizing technology patented by NTP. The US International Trade Commission (ITC) [official website] launched an investigation [JURIST report] in June into allegations made by HTC Corp [corporate website] accusing Apple of patent infringement on certain portable electronic devices. In October, Finnish telecommunications company Nokia [corporate website] filed suit [JURIST report] against Apple alleging that the company infringed 10 of its patents since the first iPhone was released in 2007. The patents cover wireless data transmission, speech coding and security/encryption.

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Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

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