ONE OF THE WORLD'S richest men and a founder of Microsoft, Paul Allen is continuing with his cunning plan to sue the world plus dog for allegedly nicking his company's software ideas.
According to Groklaw, Allen is going after everyone in the information technology industry that is not Microsoft, of course, and demanding that they all pay up for using a few supposedly brilliant but actually ridiculously obvious ideas that his company slipped past patent examiners years ago.
The US Patent and Trademark Office has been rubber-stamping most all software patents submitted to it for a couple of decades now, perhaps because it gets paid for every patent that it approves and also assumes that patent applicants are 'on their honour' to search for any existing prior art.
Then there's also the problem that software should never have been considered patentable anyway. It's all logic and maths, and insights in those fields aren't invented, they're just discovered.
This daft set of policies on software patents is about to cost a dozen big companies millions of dollars each for protracted patent litigation.
This is Allen's second crack at getting the case to court. A month ago his lawsuit was chucked out because the judge agreed with some of the defendants that it didn't make adequately specific claims about how the defendants were allegedly infringing the patents at issue.
Allen's original lawsuit and the amended complaint he refiled just yesterday claim infringement of four patents filed by his firm Interval Research, a technology incubator. The lawsuit names as defendants Apple, Google, AOL, Ebay, Facebook, Yahoo, Office Depot, Officemax, Netflix, Youtube and Staples.
Given what the lawsuit alleges, it might as well have named most commercial websites on the planet, or maybe just 'The Internet' for short.
Two of the patents are related to the way websites suggest additional, related content to what's being shown on the screen. Google and Yahoo's news websites' advertising systems and e-mail spam filters also infringe these patents, the complaint alleges.
The other two patents are related to the way computer programs and websites send alerts to the user without disturbing their main activity on the computer. Allen says the infringing products include AOL's instant messaging system, Google's Gmail notification software and Yahoo's news widget.
Allen has said in the past that he is not suing for himself, but is doing it for all the employees who worked for him. Still, if he wins, most of the Internet will have to write his firm a large cheque. µ
So that's why she's smiling…
How many Zuckbucks to the pound?
Alexa, is this exploitation?