A company owned by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen has filed a patent lawsuit against 11 companies, including Google, Apple and Facebook.
Interval Licensing is alleging that the firms - which also include AOL, eBay, Netflix, Office Depot, OfficeMax, Staples and YouTube, have violated patents related to search, multimedia, screen pop-upd and database management. Notable omissions from the list are Microsoft - in which Allen is still a major investor - and Amazon.
The technologies were first developed at Interval Research, the former R&D company founded by Allen and David Liddle in 1992.
"Interval Research was an early, ground-breaking contributor to the development of the internet economy," said David Postman, spokesman for Paul 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."
The patents are:
United States Patent No. 6,263,507, titled '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, titled 'Attention Manager for Occupying the Peripheral Attention of a Person in the Vicinity of a Display Device'.
United States Patent No. 6,788,314, titled 'Attention Manager for Occupying the Peripheral Attention of a Person in the Vicinity of a Display Device'.
United States Patent No. 6,757,682, titled 'Alerting Users to Items of Current Interest'.
Interval is at pains to distinguish itself from the thousands of 'patent trolls' with which the industry has become so familiar.
"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."