Paul Allen, co-founder of Microsoft, and not the character from American Psycho, is suing Apple, Google, AOL, eBay, Facebook, Netflix, Office Depot, OfficeMax, Staples, Yahoo and YouTube citing that the online sites are all breaking patents owned by his company.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Allen 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".
The technology behind the patents mainly refers to websites giving customers or readers suggestions of other related articles on the same page, very much like the features that are found on most websites across the Internet.
"The technology behind one patent allows a site to offer suggestions to consumers for items related to what they're currently viewing, or related to online activities of others in the case of social networking sites", reports the US paper. "A second, among other things, allows readers of a news story to quickly locate stories related to a particular subject. Two others enable ads, stock quotes, news updates or video images to flash on a computer screen, peripherally to a user's main activity".
Not surprisingly Allen isn't going after Microsoft or Amazon, both companies that he owns shares in.
If successful, it could spell a complete change in how the Internet looks and make Allen, who is already worth some $13 billion, even richer.
We will keep you posted.