Microsoft Co-founder Paul Allen Refiles Apple Patent Lawsuit

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Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen refiled a patent infringement lawsuit against Apple and several other companies on Tuesday, just ahead of a court imposed deadline. The original case was tossed out in early December when a Federal Judge said the complaint was too vague.

The amended complaint includes details that weren’t included in the original filing, and also sports 40 exhibits showing the alleged patent infringement in action, according to the Seattle Times. ALong with Apple, Google, Facebook, Office Depot, OfficeMax, staples, Yahoo, YouTube, Netflix and eBay are named in the filing.

What? Me worry?Paul Allen hopes his lawsuit sticks this time

Mr. Allen’s Interval Licensing filed the lawsuit on behalf of Interval Research Corporation, a company he co-founded in 1992 with David Liddle. Interval Research closed its doors in 2000, but its patents are apparently still alive and kicking, and under the watchful care of Mr. Allen’s Interval Licensing.

The patents Mr. Allen is hoping to protect describe “a browser for use in navigating a body of information, with particular application to browsing information represented by audiovisual data,” an “attention manager for occupying the peripheral attention of a person in the vicinity of a display device,” and a system for “alerting users to items of current interest.”

The amended filing includes examples showing iTunes Store suggestions for music a customer may be interested in based on the album they have currently selected.

The original lawsuit was dismissed because U.S. District Court Judge Marsha Pechman ruled “The allegations in the complaint are spartan.” Mr. Allen was given until December 28 to file an amended complaint, and at the time his legal team said “The case is staying on track.”

Apple hasn’t commented on the amended complaint.

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When you file the same suit again, after it has already been dismissed, the court will likely be very cautious about letting it stand, having dismissed it once before. You’ll need to present significantly stronger case in order to convince the court that the suit actually has merit. In a way, they would have had a better chance at succeeding with this new filing if they had presented it the first time around.


The court dismissed it without prejudice, in essence inviting the plaintiff to shore up the evidence, which they’ve done. If the judge is still of the opinion that there is not sufficient weight to proceed, the case will be dismissed again. It’s not a “one bite at the apple” situation.


What a dick.

?a browser for use in navigating a body of information, with particular application to browsing information represented by audiovisual data,?

That “patent” right there should be on the poster for patent law reform.

I would love to punch Allen right in his f’ed up horse teeth.


Hit Steve Jobs at the same time and we may be able to sell tickets.


I don’t understand why Paul Allen wants this to be his legacy. He doesn’t need the money. He can’t really believe to own the intellectual property for everything he’s targeting. It’s just bizarre.


Hey Mr Paul Allen!

Get your head from out of your own rear, it doesn’t smell of roses, and never will, no matter how much you want to believe otherwise!

Next thing he’ll try to do is patent the idea of breathing and/or breaking wind!

U.S. Patent Law needs a serious rethink They’ll let anyone patent anything no matter how vague or incomplete or indistinct.


While I am no fan of Mr. Allen’s suit the quoted text, ?a browser for use in navigating a body of information, with particular application to browsing information represented by audiovisual data,? isn’t a fair way to judge either patent law or whether Mr. Allen suit is a just effort to be compensated for infringement of a patented invention.  If Mr. Allen’s invention meets the requirements for patentability, particularly under the U.S. Supreme Court’s new standard for obviousness, then he is entitled for remedy for infringement.  But you can’t determine that based on one phrase from a claim.

Also, Mr. Allen’s suit was dismissed on procedural grounds.  To wit: his claims insufficiently stated a claim for infringement by failing to say with sufficient specificity the invention that he alleged that Apple and the other defendant’s infringed.  This meant that he both failed to state a claim for which relief could be granted and failed to state a claim of sufficient specificity and clarity so that any of the defendants could be expected to respond to his vague claim.  The judge, therefore, gave Mr. Allen one opportunity to correct the defects in his infringement claim.  If Allen has successfully remedied the defects in his complaint, Apple et al must now answer, and the case will, after those answers are sufficiently stated, will move on to discovery on all claims not admitted to be true. 

If, however, Mr. Allen has not succeeded in correcting the defects in his claim pursuant to the court’s order, his claim will most likely be dismissed with prejudice, as if it had been decided on the merits, and such a dismissal would bar any further action by Mr. Allen in any U.S. federal district court anywhere.  And, in that event, Apple et al will move the court to recover their legal fees for defending Mr. Allen’s suit.  Mr. Allen, in short, was ordered to put up or forever shut up.  The judge will soon let us know whether Mr. Allen has met the requirements of her order.


@nemo, is that the long way of saying he’s a dick?


It is my way of saying let’s be patient and see what the lawsuit will reveal.  The judges of the bench for U.S. Dist. Ct. for the Northern Dist. of California are a talented group, particularly in the area of IP cases, and the lawyers representing the parties are among the best.  If Mr. Allen succeeds against such formidable defendants in the Northern District, there may indeed be something to his suit.

However, that is not to say that the USPTO doesn’t need more resources and that the patent law doesn’t need reform on the margins.  I think that the U.S. Supreme Court has begun the process of making judicious and reasonable reform with its Bilski decision.  Perhaps Mr. Allen will provide the courts with another opportunity to refine the substantive patent law, and Congress will give the USPTO the money that it needs to hire more and more expert examiners.


@Nemo: The USPTO needs more than just a reform on the margins. When it’s possible to get a patent for swinging sideways on a swing set, there is quite a bit broke about the system.

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