Apple last week joined forces with Google, Facebook, Yahoo and others in an effort to dismiss patent infringement charges brought by billionaire Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen.
In a federal lawsuit filed last August, an Allen-owned firm claimed that 11 companies, including Apple, Google, YouTube, Facebook, AOL and Yahoo, infringed four patents awarded more than a decade ago.
Among the patents was one that described a "news browser," while another referred to technology for alerting users of Web content related to what they were currently viewing.
Apple was one of four companies -- the others were AOL, Google and Yahoo -- charged with violating all four patents.
The patents were issued between 2000 and 2004 to Internal Research, an Allen-funded Silicon Valley research lab that shut its doors in 2000. The patents were later transferred to Interval Licensing, which Allen also controls.
Google launched the counterattack against Allen on Oct. 18 when it filed a motion to dismiss the claims. The motion asserted that Interval had failed to show how Google had infringed the patents, and that it had not named the technologies used by or the services offered by Google that allegedly violated those patents.
"Interval is not entitled to waste Court and party resources with a scattershot Complaint against multiple Defendants that fails to give any indication as to which products or services Interval contends are infringing and the factual basis for such a claim," Google asserted.
"Interval's Complaint is so devoid of any facts to support its infringement contentions that it is impossible for Google to reasonably prepare a defense," Google continued.
In an Oct. 19 follow-up motion submitted to Seattle-based U.S. District Court Judge Marsha Pechman, Google said Interval had tossed all 11 defendants into the same litigation basket without showing "any coordinated action" among the bunch.
The TechFlash blog first reported on Google's motion to dismiss in a story published Sunday.
Apple joined Google's motion on Oct. 21 with a filing of its own.
"Interval has sued eleven major corporations and made the same bald assertions that each defendant infringes 197 claims in four patents," Apple stated. "As the U.S. Supreme Court noted in Twombly, it is in this type of situation in which courts should use their 'power to insist upon some specificity in pleading before allowing a potentially massive factual controversy to proceed.'"
The other defendants have submitted their own similar motions to Judge Pechman.
Allen's suit seeks unspecified damages, as well as injunctions that would block the accused companies from continuing to use the patented technologies.
Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter at @gkeizer, or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed . His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.