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Federal judge dismisses Microsoft co-founder's patent suit

A judge for the US District Court for the Western District of Washington [official website] on Friday dismissed [order, PDF] a patent infringement lawsuit [JURIST report] by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen against Apple, eBay, Google [corporate websites] and eight other corporations. According to the complaint [text, PDF], which also named 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 charged 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 alleged 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." Judge Marsha Pechman dismissed Allen's claims, finding that "Plaintiff has failed to identify the infringing products or devices with any specificity." A spokesperson said Allen plans to file an amended complaint [Reuters report]

Allen's suit comes as several of the named defendants face unrelated litigation alleging misappropriation of intellectual property. Connecticut company XPRT Ventures LLC sued [JURIST report] eBay in July 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 came 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] in July against Apple and Google, among 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 by HTC Corp [corporate website] accusing Apple of patent infringement on certain portable electronic devices. In October 2009, 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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