Just within days after the formal launch of Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8, Seatle-based Microsoft is facing a patent infringement suit over the live tiles feature incorporated in the new operating systems.
Although, the lawsuit, filed before the U.S. District Court in Maine on October 30, is over the use of tiles, it is not as silly as the Apple-Samsung battle over ‘rectangles.’ Instead, the complaint says that Microsoft is illegally and willfully using the live tiles feature, which display notifications and updates in similar boxes as icons in real time or near real time.
The plaintiff, SurfCast, is a small company established by a gropu of people mainly from IBM and Deutsche Bank. It works with operating system technology and claims to have designed the concept of tiles in the 1990s. Its website reads, “SurfCast designed a new concept referred to as ‘Tiles’. Tiles can be thought of as dynamically updating icons. A Tile is different from an icon because it can be both selectable and live — containing refreshed content that provides a real-time or near-real-time view of the underlying information.”
Surfcast claims, Microsoft is directly infringing its patent named “System and method for simultaneous display of multiple information sources,”numbered 6,724,403. This patent was filed on October 30, 2000 and granted on April 20, 2004. While a similar patent by Microsoft named “Tile space user interface for mobile devices,” numbered 7,933,632, was filed on June 16, 2006 and granted on April 26, 2011. In its 10-page lawsuit filing SurfCast claimed, Microsoft knew about the ,403 patent as early as in 2009, as the Patent Examiner acknowledged the patent as a prior art to Microsoft’s patent filing.
SurfCast also mentioned three other similar patents – 7,028,264, 7,376,907 and 7,987,431 – the company was granted in 2006, 2008 and 2011 respectively, in this context.
If SurfCast wins the lawsuit, this could be a costly blow for Microsoft.