December 30, 2010, 3:34 PM

Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen is back with another patent suit

Interval Licensing once more takes on eBay, Google, Netflix and others over web technology.

Mark Brohan

Research Director

Just more than two weeks after a federal court judge dismissed a lawsuit by Microsoft Corp. co-founder Paul Allen over alleged patent infringement against a number of big-name e-commerce technology companies and retail chains, Allen has filed a new complaint.

On Dec. 13 Judge Marsha J. Pechman of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington ruled that Allen’s technology research and development company, Interval Licensing, didn’t provide enough detail to support its initial claims for patent violations by 11 e-commerce and retail companies, including AOL Inc., Apple Inc. (No. 4 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide), eBay Inc., Facebook Inc., Google Inc., Netflix Inc. (No. 14 in the Top 500 Guide), Office Depot Inc. (No. 5), OfficeMax Inc. (No. 7) and Staples Inc. (No. 2).

But in dismissing the suit, Pechman also gave Interval Licensing a deadline of Dec. 28 to file a new complaint with more supporting evidence. In the new complaint, Interval Licensing again alleges that multiple companies violated its patents “for a browser for use in navigating a body of information” and three other patents related to “categorizing, comparing and displaying segments of information.”

But the new lawsuit also contains more than 200 additional pages of detailed patent descriptions and schematics that Interval Licensing says better documents its infringement claims. In particular, the new lawsuit singles out detailed patent infringements by AOL, Apple, eBay, Facebook and others by violating a patent for a “browser for use in navigating a body of information with particular application to browsing information represented by audio visual data.”

In its latest lawsuit, Interval Licensing also contends:

• Various companies infringed on its patent in the way they suggest and guide users to relevant content.

• Various companies illegally included its browser technology in applications such as AOL Instant Messenger, Apple Dashboard, Google Talk and Gmail Notifier, Google's Android phone system and Yahoo Widgets.

Interval Licensing isn’t saying more about its latest claim, but is asking for a jury trial, an immediate-cease and-desist order for any patent infringement, unspecified monetary damages and attorney fees.

No new court dates have been set. In order to win its latest complaint, Interval Licensing will have to supply more detail as the case unfolds, says Peter Brann, a partner with Lewiston, ME-based law firm Brann & Isaacson who specializes in intellectual property litigation on behalf of Internet retailers and other direct marketers.

“Interval Licensing is doing what the judge said they had to do, and that is to supply more detail,” says Brann. “The bottom line in these cases is that the judge wants to see much more than just assertions.”

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