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Microsoft Co-founder Sues Apple, Google, Yahoo

Microsoft co-founder and billionaire Paul Allen is suing nearly a dozen major technology companies, including Google Inc. and Apple Inc., alleging that they infringed on four Web technology patents held by his company Interval Licensing LLC.

Interval said Friday it filed the suit in a U.S. District Court in Seattle against the companies. Others named in the suit are: Facebook Inc., eBay Inc., Yahoo Inc., Netflix Inc., Office Depot Inc., OfficeMax Inc., Staples Inc. and Google-owned YouTube LLC.

Interval owns patents from Interval Research, which was a technology research and development company that Allen started with David Liddle in the early '90s.

Interval said that the patents it believes are being violated are key to how e-commerce and search companies work.

"This lawsuit is necessary to protect our investment in innovation," Paul Allen's spokesman, David Postman, said in a statement.

Most of the companies named as defendants did not immediately return requests for comment. AOL spokeswoman Tricia Primrose said the Internet company had no comment.

Facebook spokesman Andrew Noyes called the suit "completely without merit."

Google said the suit "reflects an unfortunate trend of people trying to compete in the courtroom instead of the marketplace."