Microsoft co-founder sues Apple, Google and Facebook

Google, eBay and Facebook plan to fight Paul Allen lawsuit
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A company owned by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen has launched a patent suit against eleven of the world's largest Internet companies.

Interval Licensing filed a complaint on Friday morning which named Apple, eBay, Facebook, AOL, Google, Netflix, Yahoo and AOL as infringing on patents filed more than a decade ago.

The lawsuit relates to patents developed by Internal Research which Allen had bankrolled in 1992, later closing in 2000 with the patents transferred to Interval Licensing, a firm owned by Allen.

"Interval Research was an early, ground-breaking contributor to the development of the internet economy," said Paul Allen spokesman David Postman. "This lawsuit is necessary to protect our investment in innovation."

One of the patents describes an "Browsing Information Represented By Audiovisual Data" and the other "Alerting Users to Items of Current Interest." Facebook, Google and eBay have so far said they plan to contest the complaint.

"This 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," wrote a Google spokesman in an email to ArsTechnica. "Innovation - not litigation - is the way to bring to market the kinds of products and services that benefit millions of people around the world."

Ars Technica summarised the patents by saying: "They collectively address the general concept of presenting searched-for information to a user along with related news articles, media (such as music or videos), status updates from friends, or data (such as stock or weather info)."

Paul Allen did not name Microsoft in the suit. In July Allen announced 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."

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