Microsoft's being sued for patent infringement over the Live Tile interface in Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8.
A Portland, Maine-based company called SurfCast says Microsoft's infringing four patents relating to Surfcast's Grid and Tile user interface.
Patents 6,724,403, 7,028,264, 7,376,907 and 7,987,431 describe a 'System and method for simultaneous display of multiple information sources'. The company says it invented the concept over ten years ago, and that Microsoft's known about it since April 2009.
"We developed the concept of Tiles in the 1990s, which was ahead of its time," says CEO Ovid Santoro. "Microsoft’s Live Tiles are the centerpiece of Microsoft’s new Operating Systems and are covered by our patent."
The company describes its 'Tiles' concept as a set of dynamically-updating icons that are both selectable and live, and that can provide dynamic bookmarking - an at-a-glance view of the current status of the associated program, file or content.
"Tiles enable people to have all their content, applications, and resources, regardless of whether on their mobile device, tablet, computer, or in their Cloud - visualized persistently - dynamically updating," it says.
And this is just what Microsoft's incorporated in a series of new Windows versions, including Windows 8, Windows 8 Pro, Windows Phone 8 and Windows RT.
SurfCast isn't your common-or-garden patent troll. It's been around since 1998, and developed the patents itself, rather than buying them up as a job lot. It may, though, have trouble proving that the concept isn't too obvious for a patent to stand.
Microsoft says the claims are without merit.