Jay Walker Goes Nuclear: Priceline Founder Sues More Than 100 Companies

Jay Walker, founder of Priceline.com

Is Jay Walker jealous of Paul Allen? Allen got a lot of press when he sued 11 big internet companies last year, essentially saying he patented ideas like “related links.” Walker has been dabbling in the world of patent-trolling for over a year now, but with no such fanfare; he started off by suing Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT), Dell, and HP-and the multi-state Powerball lottery. In November, he upped the ante, suing Facebook for patent infringement. Now maybe he’ll get his turn in the spotlight: he’s filed 15 lawsuits against more than 100 defendants, including Microsoft, eBay (NSDQ: EBAY), Amazon (NSDQ: AMZN), Facebook, WalMart, Groupon, Apple (NSDQ: AAPL), Sony (NYSE: SNE) and Google.

In a press release, Walker explains that-just like Allen-he believes the whole economy owes him money because of inventions he created in the mid-1990s. But Walker’s view is a bit more expansive. Whereas Allen seems to believe he’s owed money for basic functions of the internet, Walker thinks he should be paid royalties for online games, banking and payment systems, and GPS navigation, among others. Walker says that inventions at his research lab, Walker Digital Laboratories, entitle him to payment for all these devices.

To launch his biggest legal assault yet, Walker has teamed up with perhaps the most experienced name in widespread patent litigation-Erich Spangenberg, who runs a company he calls IP Navigation Group. Spangenberg, whose litigation I covered extensively in years past, has used dozens of shell companies to sue many hundreds of companies in East Texas, a venue thought to be favorable to patent-holders. (Walker’s suits are filed in Delaware.)

Walker is represented by at least three smaller law firms, including lawyers from Agility IP Law in Palo Alto, Delaware-based Bayard Law, and Russ August & Kabat, a Los Angeles IP firm.

Three examples of the suits Walker has filed:

»  A lawsuit [PDF] against Citigroup, Discover, Wells Fargo, and two payment-services companies, T-Chek Systems and Orbiscom, saying the companies infringe two patents on a “Method And Device For Generating A Single-Use Financial Account Number.”

»  A lawsuit [PDF] against daily deal sites, including Groupon, Livingsocial (and parent company Amazon), and smaller sites like BuyWithMe, Tippr.com, jasmere.com, and juiceinthecity.com. Those sites are alleged to infringe four Walker patents, including one issued in 2001 called “Systems and Methods Wherein A Buyer Purchases A Product At A First Price And Acquires The Product From A Merchant That Offers The Product For Sale At A Second Price.” For example, the lawsuit says BuyWithMe is in trouble because it “offers buyers products and services from retailers at discounted prices and arranges for users to take possession of the goods or services at the retailers’ locations.” Hmm… that was invented in 2001.

»  A lawsuit [PDF] against online game operators, including-(deep breath)-Activision (NSDQ: ATVI), Atari, Cartoon Interactive Group, Disney (NYSE: DIS) Interactive, Electronic Arts (NSDQ: ERTS), ESPN Internet Ventures, Microsoft, Miniclip America, MLB Advanced Media, Onlive, Popcap Games, Sony Corp., Turbine, Turner Digital Basketball Services, Valve Corp., Walt Disney, Yahoo (NSDQ: YHOO), and Zynga. The companies are accused of violating two patents, including this one, which “allows video and computer game enthusiasts to submit their game outcomes to a central online repository so that they can be compared to the results of other players.”

»  A lawsuit [PDF] over mapping technology, filed against Apple, Google (NSDQ: GOOG), Samsung, Microsoft, Telenav, Mio Technology, TomTom, and others.


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