Paul Allen's Interval Sues Facebook Again

Billionaire investor Paul Allen is having a second go at suing Facebook for patent infringement, weeks after a federal judge dismissed his first such suit.

Allen’s amended suit asserts that his defunct company Interval has dibs on a rather general sounding invention, the ability to discover related content and display it. Experts have told The Seattle Times that he has slim odds of winning this lawsuit but if he does, he could score at least $500 million.

Facebook is one of 11 defendants named in the amended patent infringement lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Seattle. The others are AOL, Apple, eBay, Google, Netflix, Office Depot, OfficeMax, Staples, Yahoo and YouTube.

Better known for his role in co-founding Microsoft, Allen had formed Interval with David Liddle in 1992 and shuttered it in 2000.

The updated filing contains more specifics about each of the defendants’ alleged infringements, however these descriptions are still really general, and that’s what will make them so difficult to prove as infringements.

The suit actually discusses four different patents, spelling out different combinations of infringements for each defendant. Facebook allegedly infringed upon two of them, numbers 6,263,507 and 6,757,682, 20 claims in the first and 15 in the second.

Below we’ve excerpted all the suit has to say about how Facebook allegedly infringes 35 different claims, from a total of two patents. Of course, these things are also depicted in exhibits that we don’t have the ability to reproduce here.

Nonetheless, the text below makes us wonder why Allen is persisting with his case. Do you think this latest suit will make it to the jury trial that Allen wants, or will it also get dismissed?

In order to help users find additional content that may be of interest, the software and hardware that operate this website compare the available content items to determine whether they are related. When a user views a particular content item, the Facebook.com website generates a display of related content items so as to inform the user that the related items may be of interest. For example… when a user views a particular photo page on Facebook.com, the Facebook.com website displays both the selected photo information… and links to other related photos… Another example of infringing functionality is demonstrated by user profile pages, which display photos and profiles of other users that are related to the profile being viewed.

The determination of which content and activity is to be provided to the user is based at least in part on the other users’ activities including, for example, sharing content or “liking” or commenting on content or activity. For example… Facebook alerts users of some of the available content via the “News Feed.” …users may perform activities (e.g., sharing, “liking,” or commenting) that can be used to determine which content and activity appears in the “News Feeds” of other users. The Facebook.com website also alerts users of other users with whom they may wish to become friends. The determination of which users to recommend is based at least in part on the other users’ activities including, for example, befriending users, joining networks, and providing profile information.

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