Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen has dropped the patent suit hammer on Apple, Google, Facebook, AOL, eBay, Netflix, Office Depot, OfficeMax, Staples, Yahoo, and YouTube, accusing them of violating his lab's innovations in internet commerce. According to the Wall Street Journal:

For Mr. Allen, the lawsuit marks new terrain. He is aggressively going after companies, including many of Silicon Valley's biggest names, that he thinks are violating technology that was developed at his Interval Research Corp., a Palo Alto, Calif., lab and technology incubator he financed with about $100 million during the Internet bubble.

Here are the patents in question:

  • Patent #507 “Browser for Use in Navigating a Body of Information, With Particular Application to Browsing Information Represented By Audiovisual Data.”
  • Patent #657 “Attention Manager for Occupying the Peripheral Attention of a Person in the Vicinity of a Display Device.”
  • Patent #314 “Attention Manager for Occupying the Peripheral Attention of a Person in the Vicinity of a Display Device.”
  • Patent #682 “Alerting Users to Items of Current Interest.”

Google has responded with:

“This lawsuit against some of America’s most innovative companies reflects an unfortunate trend of people trying to compete in the courtroom instead of the marketplace. Innovation — not litigation — is the way to bring to market the kinds of products and services that benefit millions of people around the world.”

And Facebook says:

We believe this suit is completely without merit and we will fight it vigorously

What do you think, pure patent trolling or does Paul Allen deserve compensation?

[Wall Street Journal, TechCrunch]