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Allen's Patent Lawsuits Capsize

Paul Allen's suit against nearly the entire software industry (with the exception of Microsoft) hit a speed bump this week, or for the yacht-happy Allen, a rogue wave may be more accurate.

Back in the '90s, Allen had a research company called Interval. It did a lot of work, but ultimately produced mostly patents. These patents, which cover many of the fundamental aspects of Internet (too fundamental to deserve protection, some argue), are being used to sue everyone -- including Facebook, YouTube, Yahoo, Apple and eBay. There are 11 defendants in all, and if Interval somehow prevails, I'm sure there will be more.

The suit, for now, has been dismissed because Interval lawyers were vague about exactly what products violated what patents and how. The judge, however, is giving Interval until just after Christmas, to refile -- this time with specifics.

What is your take? Should a multibillionaire like Allen hold the entire industry hostage (with the exception of Microsoft) over ideas as broad as "alerting users to item of current interest" and "browsing audio/visual data?" You tell me at dbarney@redmondmag.com.

Posted by Doug Barney on 12/15/2010 at 1:18 PM


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