In August, Paul Allen and his legal team unleashed a broad spectrum patent suit against many of today's largest IT companies, including Google, Facebook, Yahoo, eBay, Netflix, Apple and others. The Microsoft cofounder sought payment for four patents his firm created in the 90s.

The patents mostly describe ways to present related information to consumers while they browse the Web. One allows sites to offer suggestions for merchandise related to what a person is viewing, while another outlines a method of showing content related to an article someone is reading.

  • 6,034,652 - "Attention Manager for Occupying the Peripheral Attention of a Person in the Vicinity of a Display Device."
  • 6,263,507 - "Browser for Use in Navigating a Body of Information, With Particular Application to Browsing Information Represented By Audiovisual Data."
  • 6,757,682 - "Alerting Users to Items of Current Interest."
  • 6,788,314 - "Attention Manager for Occupying the Peripheral Attention of a Person in the Vicinity of a Display Device."

The remaining patents are similarly vague -- a little too vague, apparently. US District Judge Marsha Pechman called the allegations "spartan" and dismissed the case for not being specific enough. She gave Allen a deadline of December 28 to file an amended case, and that's precisely what he plans to do.

A spokesman for Allen said he would refile accordingly and called judge's decision a "procedural issue" that won't stop the suit.