Paul Allen's Patent Lawsuits Hit a Snag, Dismissed as Too Vague

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Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen made news last August when he filed patent infringement lawsuits against Google, Apple, Facebook, eBay and other Web giants. He alleged that they run their businesses using technology created more than a decade ago in his laboratory and that they should pay him for that use.


According to The Wall Street Journal, though Allen did not develop the technology, he does own the patents. The technology at issue, the story says, includes technology that enables websites to offer suggestions to items related to what a consumer is viewing, or technology that enables news websites to present stories related to what those readers are currently viewing.


The lawsuit alleged infringement of four separate patents and sought unspecified damages.


This week, U.S. District Court Judge Marsha Pechman dismissed the claims as too vague. AfterDawn.com quotes the order as follows:

Plaintiffs should, where possible, set forth the specific websites that are at issue and identify the hardware and software with adequate detail for the defendants to know what portions of their business operations are in play in this litigation.

Allen has until later this month to amend and refile his claims.


As writer Rich Fiscus points out, however, proving infringement of these patents won't be easy, simply because they "don't really describe anything in enough detail to produce a working product."