You know how just about every site has related links at the end of an article, or related products after an item? Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen wants a piece of that action.
Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen has refiled his patent lawsuit against 11 big internet companies and e-retailers, and the new complaint details just how broad Allen’s claim to basic internet functionality is. In a 35-page amended complaint [PDF] filed Tuesday, Allen’s lawyers detail how certain functions that are widely used in digital media—acts as simple as suggesting related links, offering various forms of “alerts,” or making suggestions of related products for purchase—stand accused of infringing the four patents Allen has used in this lawsuit.
The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Interval Licensing, a patent-holding company set up to file lawsuits based on patents that were originally filed in the 1990s by Interval Research, a laboratory funded by Allen that closed its doors in 2000. Eleven companies stand accused of infringing Paul Allen’s patent rights: AOL, Apple, eBay, Facebook, Google, Netflix, Office Depot, OfficeMax, Staples, Yahoo, and YouTube…
…To call the accused features “widely used” web publishing functions would be an understatement. If patent claims on such basic ideas are found to be valid, there are surely hundreds of other potential defendants that could be sued by Interval Licensing. Paul Allen would be essentially a tax collector for the internet.
Allen and his lawyers are asking for damages, as well as an injunction that either shuts down the services or forces the defendants to pay Allen an ongoing royalty to continue using them.