Paul Allen, co-founder of Microsoft, sues 11 companies over patents

Paul Allen, who co-founded Microsoft with Bill Gates, on Friday sued Apple, Google and nine other companies. The lawsuit claims that the companies are using technology developed about a decade ago at his now-defunct Silicon Valley laboratory Interval Research. The full list includes AOL, Apple, eBay, Facebook, Google, Netflix, Office Depot, OfficeMax, Staples, Yahoo, and YouTube.

Notably absent in list are Microsoft and Amazon.com

Notably absent in the list of those sued are Microsoft and Amazon.com, of particularly interest when one examines the patents at issue. There are four patents at issue in the lawsuit. According to the Wall Street Journal:

The technology behind one patent allows a site to offer suggestions to consumers for items related to what they're currently viewing, or related to online activities of others in the case of social networking sites.

A second patent, among other things, allows readers of a news story to quickly locate stories related to a particular subject. Two others enable ads, stock quotes, news updates or video images to flash on a computer screen, peripherally to a user's main activity.

Additionally, the lawsuit alleges that Interval Research was one of four funders of Sergey Brin and Larry Page’s research that eventually became Google. The lawsuit includes a separate screenshot dated September 27, 1998, entitled “About Google!” in which Interval Research was identified in the “Credits” section as one of two “Outside Collaborators” and one of four sources of “Research Funding” for Google.

Since leaving Microsoft in 1983, Paul Allen has has a varied business life. He owns both the NFL's Seattle Seahawks and the NBA's Portland Trailblazers. However, he lost $8 billion of his investment with cable company Charter Communications when it filed for bankruptcy protection.

Still, one would expect he is still rich beyond the dreams of "normal" Americans. He recently joined the Bill Gates - Warren Buffett giving pledge, agreeing to give away at least half of his fortune to charity. In March, Forbes estimated his wealth at $13.5 billion. Last year, the 57-year-old Allen was diagnosed last year with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, but he has completed treatments.

Interval Licensing owns most of the 300 patents from Allen's now-defunct Interval Research.

You can read the lawsuit, without the separate screenshots and documents, here.

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