Interval said in a press release that "the patents in the lawsuit cover fundamental web technologies first developed at Interval Research in the 1990s, which the company believes are being infringed by major e-commerce and web search companies." David Postman, a spokesman for Allen, said this is the first time that patents related to Interval Research's work have been litigated.
Postman wouldn't comment on whether licensing discussions had taken place with the defendants prior to the filing of the lawsuit, but did say that all companies were informed that Interval held "patents of interest." The companies targeted were done so because of their work in e-commerce and search, Postman said. For example, Interval included as an exhibit in its lawsuit a screen grab of a very early "About Google" Web page from 1998 that lists Interval Research Corporation as an outside collaborator.
One may wonder why Allen's former company--Microsoft, which operates the third-leading search engine in the U.S. and now provides search technology to Yahoo--was not cited in the complaint. Postman said he would not discuss litigation strategies but emphasized that Interval is not necessarily done with these patents; in that, it might seek to widen the circle of defendants at a later date.
Representatives for Apple and Google did not immediately return requests for comment. However, Facebook spokesman Andrew Noyes said "We believe this suit is completely without merit and we will fight it vigorously."