08.28.10

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What is Interval Research Corporation? (Origin of Paul Allen’s Patent Troll)

Posted in Microsoft, Patents at 11:04 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Interval banner

Summary: A quick review of the patent troll which is used by Microsoft’s co-founder to sue almost everyone but Microsoft

IN OUR previous two posts about Microsoft’s co-founder Allen becoming a patent troll [1, 2] we attempted to gather more information about the shell he was using. It was originally called “Interval Research Corporation”.

One reader gave us a link to the Web site from 13 years ago (the site no longer exists). In the interests of preserving this for history, here is how Interval described itself back then: “Interval Research Corporation considers how technology will impact individuals and experiments with the possibilities.

“Founded in 1992 by Paul Allen, co-founder of Microsoft Corp., and David Liddle, a computer industry veteran with deep roots in research, Interval is a research setting seeking to define the issues, map out the concepts and create the technology that will be important in the future. With its long-term resources, Interval pursues basic innovations in a number of early-stage technologies and seeks to foster industries around them — sparking opportunity for entrepreneurs and highlighting a new approach to research.

“Typical research areas at Interval include signal computation, digital entertainment systems, field ethnography, adaptive computational structures, portable and wearable information technology, interactive entertainment, wireless communication and sensing, network cultures, design, technology and lifestyle choices, immersive environments, on-line journalism, and experimental media.

“To bring a fresh and real-world perspective to creating these futures, Interval has gathered a broad range of people to make up its research staff, including film makers, designers, musicians, cognitive psychologists, artists, computer scientists, journalists, entrepreneurs, engineers and software developers. The company also collaborates with other research groups and university laboratories, including the Royal College of Art, the MIT Media Lab, the Santa Fe Institute and Stanford University and many others.

“Technology will change the way we perceive our world. Interval will change the way people feel about technology.”

Allen’s colleague at the time (co-founder David Liddle) is described in Wikipedia as “co-founder of Interval Research Corporation, consulting professor of computer science at Stanford University, and credited with heading development of the groundbreaking Xerox Star computer system. He has served on the board of many corporations. He was chair of the board of trustees of the Santa Fe Institute from 1994 to 1999.”

What has he been up to since then? Allen’s history is well known and documented extensively on the Web, even some literature. So let’s take a look at Liddle. He appears to be here and according to LinkedIn, his recent professional history is as follows:

# Director
Karmasphere

(Privately Held; Information Technology and Services industry)

March 2010 — Present (6 months)

# Director
Electric Cloud

(Privately Held; Computer Software industry)

2007 — Present (3 years )

# Director
Klocwork

(Privately Held; Computer Software industry)

2005 — Present (5 years )

# Director
MaxLinear

(Public Company; MXL; Semiconductors industry)

2004 — Present (6 years )

# Director
Optichron

(Venture Capital & Private Equity industry)

2002 — Present (8 years )

# Director
New York Times Company

(Venture Capital & Private Equity industry)

2000 — Present (10 years )

# Venture Partner
U.S. Venture Partners

(Partnership; Venture Capital & Private Equity industry)

January 2000 — Present (10 years 8 months)

# General Partner
U.S. Venture Partners

(Partnership; Venture Capital & Private Equity industry)

July 2000 — July 2009 (9 years 1 month)

# President, CEO
Interval Research

(Privately Held; Computer Software industry)

1992 — 1999 (7 years )

Prior to that he worked for IBM, Metaphor Computer Systems, and Xerox Corporation. Prior to Xerox he earned his Ph.D. and right now he works as a venture capitalist. The interesting thing is that he left Interval 11 years ago having served as president and CEO there. Their Web site vanished and suddenly it resurfaced out of nowhere only with a lawsuit and some patents. Did someone just pick up those patents and decide to sue without the awareness of Allen and Liddle? Maybe they just carried Allen’s name in the press release in order to gain credibility? We decided to find out. Given that Microsoft was excluded from the lawsuit, it’s quite likely that Allen had a role. If so, this shows that he is just as malicious and greedy and Gates. As Against Monopoly put it:

Paul Allen Files Patent Lawsuits Against The Entire Web (Except for Microsoft)

[...]

Obviously, the less-than-clarifying Bilski decision from the Supreme Court isn’t deterring him.

The question is, how much of a role does Allen really play here? According to Wikipedia, “As of June 2008, the interval.com domain registration was maintained by Digeo, another Paul Allen company.” The article also says that “Interval Research was issued approximately 300 patents” and that Allen’s own Interval Licensing LLC holds them. A direct relationship can therefore be shown.

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2 Comments

  1. Needs Sunlight said,

    August 29, 2010 at 12:54 am

    Gravatar

    The word “research”, like the words “innovate” and “secure”, has a special meaning for Microserfs.

    From how they use it, it looks like it means something like “wishful thinking” or “marketeering”

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    Research does have its place, but it is usually done in collaborative environments like public universities, not in the patent office.

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