Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT) Corp. co-founder Paul Allen is suing Apple (NSDQ: AAPL), Google (NSDQ: GOOG) and nine other companies indirectly through his firm Interval (NSDQ: IILG) Licensing alleging that the technology giants are violating patents developed at a lab in Silicon Valley that he financed more than a decade ago, reports the WSJ. The suit was filed in federal court in Seattle and named Apple, Google, AOL (NYSE: AOL), eBay (NSDQ: EBAY), Facebook, Netflix (NSDQ: NFLX), Office Depot, OfficeMax, Staples, Yahoo (NSDQ: YHOO) and Google’s YouTube subsidiary.
Coincidentally, the suit doesn’t name any Seattle-based companies, like Microsoft or Amazon.com (NSDQ: AMZN). No specific damages are being pursued, but the suit claims that the companies are in violation of four patents that are similar to technology used by many companies today. For instance, one patent allows a site to offer suggestions to consumers for items related to what they’re currently viewing, or in the case of social networking, related to online activities of others. Another patent allows readers of a news story to quickly locate articles related to a particular subject. The remaining two enable ads, stock quotes, news updates or video images to flash on a computer screen.
Interval Research Corp. is a defunct Palo Alto, Calif.-based lab and incubator that Allen invested $100 million in during the internet bubble. He still owns the patents. Allen’s spokesman said it is important to Allen to protect innovation.