Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen is suing 11 US tech firms including Apple and Google, claiming patent violation over components essential to modern search and e-commerce sites.
Allen’s Interval Licensing firm says four patents are infringed, two covering automatic generation of lists of similar items on e-commerce sites and two covering generation of peripheral elements, in a lawsuit filed with a US district court, WSJ.com reports.
The firm is seeking damages and an end to the infringement, The Guardian reported.
Also named in the suit are eBay, Yahoo, Facebook, AOL, Netflix, Office Depot, Office Max, Staples and YouTube.
Google, Facebook and eBay pledged a vigorous defense.
“This lawsuit against some of America's most innovative companies reflects an unfortunate trend of people trying to compete in the courtroom instead of the marketplace,” Google said in a statement.
Allen, who quit Microsoft in the early 1980s, was among the 38 billionaires who this month pledged to give away the majority of their wealth to philanthropy after their deaths.
The former Microsoft founder has an estimated net worth of $31.5 billion (€24.7 billion).