Paul Allen, the cofounder of Microsoft from long, long ago, is now trying his hand at suing the entire Internet over decade-old patents owned by his former company, Interval Research.

AOL, Apple, eBay, Facebook, Google, Netflix, Yahoo and YouTube are named as defendants in the case for infringing on several wide-reaching patents — one of which covers offering suggestions and different advertisements based on what the consumer is viewing.

Such patents, often known as business process patents, are controversial. Many experts question whether they should have been granted in the first place — a theory that will surely be tested if the infringement actions make it to court. Patent litigation is an expensive affair, and such cases are often settled before seeing a courtroom.

The patent litigation comes about three weeks after Allen joined several other billionaires including the likes of Warren Buffett and David Rockefeller in pledging to give away a majority of their fortunes. So that’s the bright side: He’s totally giving away his patent-sharking profits!

Whether it comes as a surprise or not, Allen’s former company Microsoft was not cited in the patent complaint. There’s always a chance Allen and Interval Research will expand the lawsuits if they see any kind of success shaking up its current list of targets.

[Photo: egarc2]


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