The federal judge in Paul Allen's patent lawsuit against eight major technology companies and three office supply firms told the plaintiff's lawyers Friday that the charges aren't specific enough -- and dismissed the case.
While Federal District Judge Marsha J. Pechman of the U.S. District Court of the Western District of Washington in Seattle rejected the suit by Allen-owned Interval Licensing LLC, she left room for the firm to refile the case, soon.
That appears likely.
In her ruling, Pechman said that Allen's attorneys can refile their complaint if they do so by December 28, 2010.
"This is the same date by which Plaintiff contends it will file its purportedly curative and detailed infringement contentions," Pechman's filing said.
Originally filed in late August, Interval Licensing sued AOL, Apple, eBay, Facebook, Google, Netflix, Yahoo and YouTube, along with Office Depot, OfficeMax and Staples. Microsoft is not a target of the suit.
The patents are part of the intellectual property that an earlier Allen company -- Interval Research -- created before he shut the labs down in 2006 after 14 years of research. Interval Licensing claims to own some 300 patents that came out of that work. Four of those patents are at issue in the case.
Pechman said that Interval Licensing's filing lacked the level of detail needed to prove there are grounds to try the case or even what the defendants have to defend against.
"Plaintiff has failed to identify the infringing products or devices with any specificity. The Court and Defendants are left to guess what devices infringe on the four patents," the order to dismiss said.
"Plaintiff only indicates that Defendants have websites, hardware, and software that infringe on the patents or that they are encouraging third parties to use products that infringe on the patents. This fails to indicate to Defendants which of their myriad products or devices may be at issue. These allegations are insufficient to put Defendants on "notice as to what [they] must defend."
A spokesperson with Interval Licensing's legal firm declined to discuss the case.