Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen made headlines this past weekend when it emerged that his company is suing several of the biggest names in the tech industry over patent infringement.
The name Interval Research may not mean anything to you. Don't worry, it didn't mean much to most people until Friday afternoon, as it's been defunct for 10 years. IR was started by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen and David Liddle, the man responsible for developing the Xerox Star computer system in the early '90s. Founded in 1992, it focused on the Internet and consumer technology applications. Though the company was dissolved in April of 2000, it has filed suit against no more than 11 major tech companies, including Google, Yahoo! and Apple.
The suit, filed Friday in Western District of Washington, accuses AOL, Apple, eBay, Facebook, Google, Netflix, Office Depot, OfficeMax, Staples, Yahoo, and YouTube of violating Interval Research Patents relating to multimedia, databases and screen activity.
The specific patents covered by the lawsuit are listed below:
-- U.S. Patent No. 6,263,507, for "Browser for Use in Navigating a Body of Information, With Particular Application to Browsing Information Represented By Audiovisual Data."
-- U.S. Patent No. 6,034,652, for "Attention Manager for Occupying the Peripheral Attention of a Person in the Vicinity of a Display Device."
-- U.S. Patent No. 6,788,314, for "Attention Manager for Occupying the Peripheral Attention of a Person in the Vicinity of a Display Device."
-- U.S. Patent No. 6,757,682, for "Alerting Users to Items of Current Interest."
IDG reports that a representative for Google has criticized the suit, declaring, "Innovation not litigation."
"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. Innovation -- not litigation -- is the way to bring to market the kinds of products and services that benefit millions of people around the world," a spokesperson for the search giant said.