Paul Allen Sues Apple, Google, Others Over Patents

Billionaire Paul Allen has made major forays into cable television and sports teams since leaving Microsoft Corp. more than two decades ago. Now he’s adding another pursuit: patent litigation.

Mr. Allen, who co-founded Microsoft (MSFT) with Bill Gates, on Friday sued Apple Inc. (AAPL), Google Inc. (GOOG) and nine other companies asserting they are using technology developed about a decade ago at his now-defunct Silicon Valley laboratory. Mr. Allen, a pioneer of computer software, didn’t develop any of the technology himself but owns the patents.

None of the defendants could immediately be reached for comment.

Patent litigation in general is on the rise and Mr. Allen’s lawsuit comes amid high-profile successes of firms such as NTP Inc. and Acacia Research Corp., which enforce patents without making products. Courts have tried to rein in patent litigation with mixed results, and Congress has yet to act on legislation that would do the same.

For Mr. Allen, the lawsuit marks new terrain. He is aggressively going after companies, including many of Silicon Valley’s biggest names, that he thinks are violating technology that was developed at his Interval Research Corp., a Palo Alto, Calif., lab and technology incubator he financed with about $100 million during the Internet bubble.

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