Microsoft sued over use of Live Tiles in Windows

By on October 31, 2012, 3:30 PM

Microsoft is already facing lawsuits related to the recently-launched Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 operating systems. Surfcast, a Portland-based company OS development company has filed a complaint with a U.S. District Court in Maine, claiming that Microsoft is infringing on its patents with the use of live tiles in their desktop, tablet and mobile software.

The patent in question is US Patent #6,724,403: “System and method for simultaneous display of multiple information sources,” filed in October 2000 and issued in April 2004. The document covers a method of “presenting information from a variety of sources on a display device,” and describes a graphical user interface that presents this information in a grid of tiles that can refresh their content independently of the others.

That’s pretty much what Microsoft’s implementation of Live Tiles does. Surfcast even states that the software giant was aware of the patent as early as 2009, when Microsoft referenced the work in its own patent (No. 7,933,632) called “Tile space user interface for mobile devices.”

Surfcast's complaint also accuses Microsoft of inducing its partners to infringe its patent through devices running Windows software. Whether or not Surfcast has a case remains to be seen. Curiously, though, the company could have brought forward the same claims two years ago when Windows Phone 7 was announced, yet the company seems to have waited it out to build a stronger case.

The company, which doesn’t appear to make or sell anything of its own, is asking Microsoft to pay damages for infringing the patents and cover legal expenses.




User Comments: 24

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m4a4 m4a4 said:

BS. As said, they've had 2 years and did nothing. So they should just stop trolling as they didn't defend their patent back when it mattered...

Win7Dev said:

?System and method for simultaneous display of multiple information sources"

So wouldn't that include Spaces on OSX and expose? You can view multiple information sources at the same time. The sources being different windows open on your desktop.

howzz1854 said:

If they're not making or selling anything... there's no ground for damage or lost revenue.

next.....!

Illusions said:

There it is. They make nothing and sell nothing.!

"The company, which doesn?t appear to make or sell anything of its own, is asking Microsoft to pay damages for infringing the patents and cover legal expenses."

Patent squatters are bottom feeders!

Guest said:

Windows 8 is still in the news cycle and people are talking about it whether negatively or positively - cue the patent trolls to come out of the cracks and crevices.

Guest said:

Yeah. Tandy Deskmate had "live tiles" in the early 80s and Its been part of Nix operating systems since at least the 90s. Not that microsoft isnt also part of the problem, but this patenting of simplistic and common ideas crap is part of why capitalism is failing in America.

Guest said:

This makes sense. Portland, OR.The fountain of ..... nothing worth a shix!

Guest said:

Its Portland, ME. Why would a Portland-base company in Oregon file a complaint in the U.S. District Court in Maine. That doesn't make senses.

1 person liked this | AnotherTom AnotherTom said:

Look at all the whining about this. The company IS a patent troll, this is currently legal in the U.S. Theses guys own the patent and are claiming MS used their technology without a proper agreement. Is this not what a patent is all about.

Show me within patent law were it says a company owning a patent can't choose when, or if, to take action. This is America folks. The fact that you don't like it doesn't count. It's legal or NOT. Don't like it, get congress to change the law (good luck with that, by the way).

AnotherTom AnotherTom said:

This makes sense. Portland, OR.The fountain of ..... nothing worth a shix!

What a thoughtful and intelligent comment. Nice job whoever you are. Really adds to the debate. Keep up the good work.

howzz1854 said:

Look at all the whining about this. The company IS a patent troll, this is currently legal in the U.S. Theses guys own the patent and are claiming MS used their technology without a proper agreement. Is this not what a patent is all about.

Show me within patent law were it says a company owning a patent can't choose when, or if, to take action. This is America folks. The fact that you don't like it doesn't count. It's legal or NOT. Don't like it, get congress to change the law (good luck with that, by the way).

no one says anything about they can't sue. if anything, they're entitled to sue and put an injunction on it. but to sue for "damages" is a different story. there's no merit to damage since there's no loss sales. it's basic civil litigation law.

Vrmithrax Vrmithrax, TechSpot Paladin, said:

This makes sense. Portland, OR.The fountain of ..... nothing worth a shix!

Yah, you're totally right. I mean, it's not like Intel is just a mile from my house, or Nike is based here, or Tektronix, or Freightliner, or... Oh wait, I see what you did there! You threw out an ignorant and baseless post while hiding behind your "Guest" anonymity. Well played.

lipe123 said:

Is it just me or does just about every webpage in existence also "violate" this stupid patent?

There should be a revision to patent law that a company that is not actively pursuing the development/research of said patent has no right to register it in the first place.

1 person liked this | Vrmithrax Vrmithrax, TechSpot Paladin, said:

no one says anything about they can't sue. if anything, they're entitled to sue and put an injunction on it. but to sue for "damages" is a different story. there's no merit to damage since there's no loss sales. it's basic civil litigation law.

Unfortunately, they can apparently sue for damages based on calculated lost revenue from licensing fees that would have been acquired on products already sold, plus future losses (which is usually what the lawyers use as the whipping stick to force a licensing agreement). It happens all the time in these kind of "concept" lawsuits, and it's usually why the patent holder doesn't jump out immediately and scream "foul!" The longer they wait, and the more revenue an infringing company makes, the bigger the potential check when the hammer falls.

Yet another reason that our patent system needs to be revised, with granting of a patent being contingent on actual production or implementation, not just allowing a placeholder on a generic concept to be used as a money trap later.

2 people like this | Wendig0 Wendig0, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Microsoft to Judge: "But your honor, they're not tiles..... They're Windows" -Puts on sunglasses- YEEEEEAAAAAAH!

Puiu Puiu said:

BS. As said, they've had 2 years and did nothing. So they should just stop trolling as they didn't defend their patent back when it mattered...

while we don't know the exact specific details of what rally happened, you should know that going against microsoft on a case that has a good chance of winning isn't something you can do withing a few months. they also had to wait for windows 8 to come out to have a stronger case against microsoft.

If MS knew about the patent and they could not reach an agreement, which I'm sure they tried to do behind the scenes, then they can be sued.

cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

It is hard to sue someone for patent infringements before they start charging.

Guest said:

Microsoft should just buy them and be done with it.

1 person liked this | BlueDrake said:

Yet another reason that our patent system needs to be revised, with granting of a patent being contingent on actual production or implementation, not just allowing a placeholder on a generic concept to be used as a money trap later.

Which will never happen, people would scream bloody murder. Saying that people are taking away their rights, to protect their ideas and letting others abuse what they "patented". It's a sickening thing really, the reason the whole patent system should be scrapped. Put everyone on equal footing, and let it be who gets there first gets the attention. Not just wrap it up in a patent, and package it as their own invention. When really there's tons of patents, that change a bit to be unique, then simply re-patent it.

Honestly.. there's no way people will ever survive. Especially with this constant trolling, it's best to patent anything. They don't make waves with their hand, wait until the stakes are just right and then strike. They hold the cards just right, so nobody notices they've been played. It's how the whole high stakes game of patent trolling keeps going.

Guest said:

How about a patent on using letters to relay information? :D

ET3D, TechSpot Paladin, said:

this patenting of simplistic and common ideas crap is part of why capitalism is failing in America.

The patenting of ideas is the problem. The patent system isn't meant to protect ideas, it's meant to protect implementations. That the patent system allows patenting ideas is something that needs to be fixed.

Of course the entire idea of the patent system has been warped. Instead of patents being useful innovations which can be licensed at a decent cost and so help reduce the need to re-invent, they are hard to find pieces of deliberately obfuscated text which are used to make sure that nobody will use that invention but the first inventor, and even that only after they've invented it themselves and used it enough that you can sue and ruin them.

tipstir tipstir, TS Ambassador, said:

German Company in the early 90's had GeoWorks Pro that used on Windows PC had it's own tile base icons in it's OS. Everyone whines about ideas.

Trillionsin Trillionsin said:

It's just as if they patent it ahead of time, just for this sole purpose.

Has anyone visited this website? I mean seriously!? It's a freaking joke.

I'd be backing Microsoft on this one, I have no doubt this will last long, someone in Surfcast might make a few bucks, and then sell whatever patents to Microsoft.

News

October 30, 2012

SurfCast, Inc. headquartered in Portland Maine, today filed a lawsuit in Federal District Court of Maine against Microsoft, Inc. alleging that Microsoft has infringed and is infringing Surfcast?s U.S. Patent No. 6,724,403 with its Windows 8 and Surface products, among others.

Ovid Santoro, CEO of SurfCast said,

"We developed the concept of Tiles in the 1990s, which was ahead of its time. Microsoft?s Live Tiles are the centerpiece of Microsoft?s new Operating Systems and are covered by our patent."

For more info contact queries@surfcast.com.

THE ONLY NEW FEED.

likedamaster said:

"The company, which doesn't appear to make or sell anything of its own..."

Whether you like Microsoft or not, this smells of patent trolls.

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