patent alert: Patent Troll Targets Microsoft Over Windows Live Tiles

by windowsiso on October 31, 2012

SurfCast is suing Microsoft for its Live Tiles, which are a central feature in Windows Phone 8 (above) and Windows.

Less than a week after the Windows 8 launch, Microsoft is already subject to a lawsuit for one of its operating system’s leading features: Live Tiles. A company called SurfCast, which appears to own four patents, yet makes no particular technology products, filed the complaint against Microsoft on Tuesday.

SurfCast claims that Redmond’s Live Tiles infringe against one of its patents, specifically #6,724,403, for a “system and method for simultaneous display of multiple information sources.” The patent covers a graphical user interface that doubles as a “simultaneous display of information from multitude of information sources.” The patent goes on to detail how this information is presented in a tile grid format and how the grid is able to refresh to show information. The USPTA issued the patent to SurfCast in 2004.

The image from SurfCast’s patent shows how its tile grid might work. Image: SurfCast

The description in the patent does sound awfully like the Live Tiles Microsoft has been touting in its Windows 8 and Windows Phone platforms. SurfCast specifically says that Microsoft infringes its patent in the following products: Windows Phone 7, Surface RT, Windows RT, Windows 8, Windows 8 Pro, and Windows 8 Enterprise.

Microsoft, however, has its own patent that covers the Live Tile functionality. Granted in April 2011, patent #7,933,632 covers “tile space user interface for mobile devices.” The patent details what is now familiar in various Windows products. “The tiles provide a snapshot of the current state of content available through the mobile device without requiring any interaction by the user,” the patent reads. “The tiles and display space are customizable and can be dynamically updated to display content to a user.”

“We are confident we will prove to the court that these claims are without merit and that Microsoft has created a unique user experience,” a Microsoft spokesperson told Wired.

Microsoft’s patent does reference SurfCast’s as prior art, which SurfCast points out in its lawsuit. SurfCast also claims that Microsoft is actively instructing developers to make apps that infringe its patent. For all of the alleged infringements, SurfCast is requesting that it receive an award on damages incurred from Microsoft’s products. But since SurfCast does not appear to make any products of its own, it’s hard to determine how much Microsoft’s use of Live Tiles has or will hurt SurfCast in terms of potential revenue.

SurfCast did not respond with comment by the time of publication.

[Via The Next Web]

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