The lawsuit alleges that 11 different companies, including YouTube, Netflix and AOL, have violated four different patents associated with web search and e-commerce.
As the Wall Street Journal notes, Interval Licensing LLC is a firm that holds IP developed at the now-defunct Interval Research. Interval Research was an incubator that Allen financed during the Internetbubble of the late 1990s.
In a statement, Interval describes the patents at the center of the alleged infringements:
United States Patent No. 6,263,507 issued for an invention entitled “Browser for Use in Navigating a Body of Information, With Particular Application to Browsing Information Represented By Audiovisual Data.”
United States Patent No. 6,034,652 issued for an invention entitled “Attention Manager for Occupying the Peripheral Attention of a Person in the Vicinity of a Display Device.”
United States Patent No. 6,788,314 issued for an invention entitled “Attention Manager for Occupying the Peripheral Attention of a Person in the Vicinity of a Display Device.”
United States Patent No. 6,757,682 issued for an invention entitled “Alerting Users to Items of Current Interest.”
What is frustrating about this lawsuit, from an outsider’s perspective, is that the nature of these patents — while based in software and technology — also have clear ties to business methods. Unfortunately, the Supreme Court’s recent ruling in the Bilski case didn’t make the blurry lines between these two areas any more clear.