Barely had it launched Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 when software giant Microsoft Corp. found itself facing a patent infringement suit over the new operating system's live tiles.
Live tiles, which display notifications and updates in real time, are a major feature of Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8, which were launched in late October.
Surfcast Inc. filed the complaint for patent infringement before the US District Court in Maine last Oct. 30.
"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," SurfCast CEO Ovid Santoro said.
It said Microsoft "infringed and is infringing" Surfcast’s U.S. Patent No. 6,724,403 with its Windows 8 and Surface products.
Patent site PriorSmart.com said Microsoft was granted Patent 7,933,632, “Tile space user interface for mobile devices,” filed June 16, 2006 and granted on April 26, 2011.
But SurfCast was granted Patent 6,724,403, “System and method for simultaneous display of multiple information sources,” filed Oct. 30, 2000 and granted April 20, 2004.
SurfCast also said it has been granted three other patents, including:
- 7,028,264, filed April 30, 2002; issued April 11, 2006 - 7,376,907, filed May 27, 2005; issued May 20, 2008 - 7,987,431, filed May 20, 2008; issued July 26, 2011
An article on Australian Financial Review said SurfCast is a small technology outfit founded by former IBM executives.
The AFR article said SurfCast claims it invented the concept of tiles as dynamically updating icons - as early as 2000.
"In any case, SurfCast says it has four patents covering tiles, including one that was filed 12 years ago and issued eight years ago. That patent ... shows small tiles that provide little windows into running applications," it said.
"If Microsoft’s Live Tiles looked like SurfCast’s Tiles, Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 would be doomed for sure. On the plus side, it might well spare us from all those brightly coloured phones," it added. — TJD, GMA News