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Paul Allen's Patents Lawsuit Dismissed

Interval Licensing LLC, which represents intellectual property claims by Microsoft's cofounder, Paul G. Allen, has hit a legal setback.

On Friday, U.S. District Judge Marsha J. Pechman issued an order agreeing with objections from the defendants in the case that the lawsuit doesn't name any infringing products. The defendants include 11 companies accused of violating Interval's software patents, including AOL, Apple, eBay, Facebook, Google, Netflix, Office Depot, OfficeMax, Staples, Yahoo and YouTube.

At stake are four U.S. patents, covering technologies associated with browsing audiovisual data, grabbing the user's attention on display devices and "alerting users to items of current interest."

The judge described the allegations in the complaint as "spartan" in the order, which is published by Groklaw here. She cited case law supporting the idea that lawsuits must describe the products that infringe and then granted the defendants' motion to dismiss the case on that basis. However, Interval's lawyers have a few more days to get more specific in their lawsuit.

"The Court GRANTS the motion to dismiss and gives Plaintiff leave to file an amended complaint by no later than December 28, 2010," Judge Pechman stated.

The Wall Street Journal cited a spokesperson for Allen suggesting that the case will continue. The spokesperson said that "the case is staying on track."

Paul Allen is the famous cofounder of Microsoft with Bill Gates. Allen is listed as No. 37 in Forbes' March list of the world's billionaires. Allen founded a company called Interval Research Corp. with David Liddle of Xerox PARC in 1992, focusing on Internet consumer applications. According to a press release from Interval Licensing LLC, the patents in the case against the 11 defendants were developed at Interval Research.

"The patents in the lawsuit cover fundamental web technologies first developed at Interval Research in the 1990s, which the company believes are being infringed by major e-commerce and web search companies," the press release states.

Interval Research also funded outside efforts, including "Sergey Brin's and Lawrence Page's research that resulted in Google," the press release claims. Google and its YouTube affiliate are two of the defendants being sued in the case.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.

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