Interval Licensing LLC (“Interval”), a Paul G. Allen company, filed a complaint today in the U.S. District Court of the Western District of Washington against major internet search and e-commerce companies alleging that they have infringed on four patents held by Interval. The eleven defendants are AOL, Apple, eBay, Facebook, Google, Netflix, Office Depot, OfficeMax, Staples, Yahoo, and YouTube.
Interval Licensing holds patents of Interval Research, the former company founded by Allen and David Liddle in 1992 to perform advanced research and development in the areas of information systems, communications, and computer science. The patents in the lawsuit cover fundamental web technologies first developed at Interval Research in the 1990s, which the company believes are being infringed by major e-commerce and web search companies.
The patents Interval is asserting include:
- United States Patent No. 6,263,507 issued for an invention entitled “Browser for Use in Navigating a Body of Information, With Particular Application to Browsing Information Represented By Audiovisual Data.”
- United States Patent No. 6,034,652 issued for an invention entitled “Attention Manager for Occupying the Peripheral Attention of a Person in the Vicinity of a Display Device.”
- United States Patent No. 6,788,314 issued for an invention entitled “Attention Manager for Occupying the Peripheral Attention of a Person in the Vicinity of a Display Device.”
- United States Patent No. 6,757,682 issued for an invention entitled “Alerting Users to Items of Current Interest.”
“Interval Research was an early, ground-breaking contributor to the development of the internet economy,” said David Postman, spokesman for Paul G. Allen. “Interval has worked hard to bring its technologies to market through spinning off new companies, technology transfer arrangements, and sales of its patented technology.”
These key patents are fundamental to the ways that leading e-commerce and search companies operate today.
“This lawsuit is necessary to protect our investment in innovation,” Postman said. “We are not asserting patents that other companies have filed, nor are we buying patents originally assigned to someone else. These are patents developed by and for Interval.”
Interval Research was founded by Allen, the Microsoft co-founder, and Liddle, who developed fundamental technologies in the 1970s when he worked at Xerox PARC. Interval was a preeminent technology firm, employing over 110 scientists, physicists and engineers. Interval also helped fund outside projects, including Sergey Brin’s and Lawrence Page’s research that resulted in Google.
Mr. Allen lives and works in Seattle where he heads Vulcan Inc. and remains an active investor and technology innovator. He has repeatedly been named one of the country’s top philanthropists. Last month he announced that a majority of his estate will be left to philanthropy.