A U.S. Federal Judge in Washington state has put the kibosh on Paul Allen's sue the Internet patent lawsuit, at least for now.
In August Paul Allen, co-founder of Microsoft and majority owner of a company called Interval Licensing, sued several of the biggest companies that operate on the Internet for patent infringement. The defendant list is a who's who of online vendors: AOL, Apple, eBay, Facebook, Google, Netflix, Office Depot, Officemax, Staples, Yahoo! and Youtube.
Allen's company sued them all for patent infringement. On Friday, Judge Marsha Pechman of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington granted the defendants' motion to dismiss, saying that the complaint was simply too vague. In her ruling, Judge Pechman says, the Court requires Plaintiff to assert sufficient facts as to the nature and identity of the purportedly infringing products and devices that form the basis of the complaint.
Simply citing the patent numbers and claiming infringement is not sufficient, she writes. Plaintiff has failed to identify the infringing products or devices with any specificity. The Court and Defendants are left to guess what devices infringe on the four patents. Plaintiff only indicates that Defendants have websites, hardware, and software that infringe on the patents or that they are encouraging third parties to use products that infringe on the patents.
The patents are a broad range of software that covers things such as categorizing information on the Internet. The suit has been described as Paul Allen sues the Internet because they cover so many functions that are basic to the functioning of e-commerce.
The dismissal doesn't end the matter. The court says Allen and Interval Licensing are free to file an amended complaint - this one more specific if they do so by Dec. 28. The court is asking that Interval Licensing say exactly which devices or products are infringing.
Meanwhile, Allen's attorneys have said in court papers they plan to file such an amended complaint in any case.
The suit is Interval Licensing LLC v. AOL, Inc. et al, number 2:10-cv-01385-MJP.