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Paul Allen's company sues Apple, Google

Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen has formally sued Apple, Google and several others over the use of technologies for which he holds the patents.

The Wall Street Journal was unable to reach any of the parties involved for comment, but notes that Allen has been going after companies, many of them high-profile, that he believes are using software that was developed in his Silicon Valley laboratory several years ago.

The suit identifies four specific patents. Each appears to be a huge part of how contemporary e-commerce and Internet search tools work. For example, one addresses how websites suggest products based upon customers' recent searches. Another lets those reading a news story quickly find related stores, while the two others let ads and news items, among other things, flash on a computer screen adjacent to what the user is directly looking at. No specific dollar amount was identified.

Allen's spokesman, David Postaman, told the Journal, "Paul thinks this is important, not just to him but to the researchers at Interval who created this technology." Others named in the suit include Ebay, Facebook, Netflix and Aol (Note: TUAW is owned by Aol).

We'll keep an eye on this story and post any updates.

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