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Microsoft co-founder suing Google, Facebook, eBay, Apple and Yahoo!

…among others. Paul Allen’s Interval Licensing accuses 11 companies of patent infringement.

Paul Allen, aside from being a serial investor, is the owner of the Seattle Seahawks NFL team and Portland Trail Blazers NBA side.
Paul Allen, aside from being a serial investor, is the owner of the Seattle Seahawks NFL team and Portland Trail Blazers NBA side.
Image: Rick Bowmer/AP

A DEFUNCT BUSINESS owned by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen has filed a lawsuit against eleven companies – including massive online names like Facebook, Google and Yahoo! – over an alleged patent infringement.

Interval Licensing, founded by Allen in 1992, employed more than 110 workers through its Interval Research arm and helped to fund outside projects by other companies, which it says it filed patents for under its own name.

The patents have since, it says, been violated by companies including Facebook, YouTube, Google, eBay, Apple, Yahoo!, Netflix, AOL, Office Depot, OfficeMax and Staples – and has filed a federal case seeking damages against them.

Allen did not develop any of the technology himself, and is not named on the patents, but retains ownership of the company that holds them.

One Stamford Law School lecturer – albeit one who has represented Google and Netflix before – told the Wall Street Journal that the action “soudns like the classic patent-troll case,” and explained that it is difficult to win a case relating to older patents that have since gone into widespread use.

Another former intellectual property lawyer, however, said Allen and his companies had not been “thought of as being in the troll community at all.”

Both Facebook and Google have issued statements vigorously defending themselves.

Allen co-founded the then Micro-Soft with Bill Gates in 1975, but distanced himself from the company in 1983 after being treated for Hodgkin’s Disease and formally resigned from its board in 2000.

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About the author:

Gavan Reilly

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