SAN FRANCISCO — Microsoft co-founder and billionaire Paul Allen is suing nearly a dozen major technology companies, including Google and Apple, alleging that they infringed on four Web technology patents held by his company Interval Licensing.
Interval said Friday that it filed the lawsuit in a U.S. District Court in Seattle against the companies. Others named in the suit are Facebook, eBay, Yahoo, Netflix, Office Depot, OfficeMax, Staples and Google-owned YouTube.
Interval owns patents from Interval Research, which was a technology research and development company that Allen started with David Liddle in the early '90s.
Interval said that the patents it thinks are being violated are key to how e-commerce and search companies work.
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"This lawsuit is necessary to protect our investment in innovation," Allen's spokesman, David Postman, said in a statement.
Most of the companies named as defendants did not immediately return requests for comment. AOL spokeswoman Tricia Primrose said the Internet company had no comment.
Facebook spokesman Andrew Noyes called the suit "completely without merit."
Google said the suit "reflects an unfortunate trend of people trying to compete in the courtroom instead of the marketplace."