It will be interesting to see how this all shakes out. “This isn’t a tiny company harassing a few big ones in hope of shaking loose some easy settlement cash,” ZDNet’s Ed Bott noted. “These patents were filed when the commercial web was still in its infancy.”
Goliath is going after a whole gang of Goliaths.
Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen is suing web giants Apple, Google, AOL, Facebook, eBay, Yahoo, YouTube and three of the nation’s biggest office supply stores (Office Depot, OfficeMax, Staples) alleging they infringed on web search-related patents his company, Interval Licensing, holds.
Allen filed the lawsuit in Seattle on Friday. He’s seeking unspecified damages.
Interval says that it holds patents on web-search technologies it developed in the early 1990s, and that the 11 companies named in the lawsuit violated those patents while developing their search and e-commerce businesses.
Facebook is vowing to fight the suit. “We believe this suit is completely without merit and we will fight it vigorously,” spokesman Andrew Noyes said in a statement Friday afternoon. In another statement, Google added that the suit “reflects an unfortunate trend of people trying to compete in the courtroom instead of the marketplace.” (Representatives at the other companies named did not immediately respond or were unable to be reached.)
One patent is for an “invention” entitled “Browser for Use in Navigating a Body of Information, With Particular Application to Browsing Information Represented by Audiovisual Data”; another is called “Alerting Users to Items of Current Interest.”