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Paul Allen vs. the World -- Take 2

Recently we reported on Paul Allen's unsuccessful bid to sue nearly the entire software industry for patent infringement. The patents, won by Allen's company Interval Research, involve some pretty fundamental aspects of Web computing. As such he sued everyone from AOL to Google. For some reason he left Microsoft alone, perhaps because Redmond is responsible for his $13.5 billon in net worth (just for the record, Mark Zuckerberg is worth a cool $14 billion).

An earlier suit was dismissed because the charges were too vague and the court gave Allen more time to put some meat on the lawsuit's bones. Now he's back with more details on just how AOL, Facebook Yahoo, Apple, Google, YouTube and others purportedly violate patents held by Interval Licensing.

Many Redmond Report readers blanched at the earlier suit. The patents in question seem to apply to almost anything one might do with a Web page. Interval is seeking compensation for anything that supports "browsing audiovisual data, grabbing the user's attention on display devices and alerting users to items of current interest."

But there is one interesting nugget: Allen's company claims it loaned manpower and gave money to help start Google, and now it wants something in return. This, too me, has far more gravitas than a bunch of overly general patents.

If Allen wins, what should he do with the money? Buy another sports team or a new mega-yacht? You tell me at dbarney@redmondmag.com.

Posted by Doug Barney on 01/05/2011 at 1:18 PM


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