Paul Allen told to be more precise over patent allegations

Posted by Kate Taylor

Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen has seen his patent suit against more or less everybody that's ever seen a computer thrown out by a judge.

Allen launched the suit four months ago, claiming that 11 companies - including Google, Apple and Facebook - were violating patents  covering search, multimedia, screen pop-upd and database management.

He said the technologies were originally developed at Interval Research, the now-defunct R&D company founded by Allen and David Liddle in 1992.

But it seems that the number of companies and different technologies involved were too much for Allen and his lawyers to keep proper track of themselves, as the judge ruled that Allen wasn't specific enough about his complaints.

"Plaintiff has failed to identify the infringing products or devices with any specificity," concluded US district court judge Marsha Pechman. "The Court and Defendants are left to guess what devices infringe on the four patents."

AOL, Apple, Google and Yahoo were claimed to have infringed all four, with Facebook, eBay, Netflix, Office Depot, OfficeMax, Staples and YouTube accused of violating three or fewer.

Allen has until December 28 to file an amended complaint spelling out exactly what the companies are supposed to have done wrong.

The four patents concerned 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'.