UC system suing Facebook, others over patents

Courtesy PhotoEolas Technologies and the UC regents are suing Facebook

A University of California system patent licensee, which has sued some of the biggest U.S. companies, is taking on three more: Facebook, Wal-Mart and Walt Disney.

Eolas Technologies and the UC regents filed lawsuits Wednesday over four patents they believe the companies are infringing upon.

The patents for interactive technology, including hypermedia display and interaction, were issued to the university and licensed to Eolas, a Texas company chaired by Michael Doyle.

The company was founded to help the UC system commercialize patent technology, its website says, including patents Doyle and his team helped develop while he worked at UC San Francisco.

A UC system spokesman said it considered the patents public assets and “should be paid a fair value when a third party exploits that university asset for profit.”

A spokesman for Menlo Park-based Facebook said the company believed the suit was without merit. “We will fight it vigorously,” he said.

A Wal-Mart spokesman said the world’s largest retailer respects the intellectual property rights of others. “We take these allegations seriously and are looking into the matter,” he said.

Disney did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

A spokesman and several lawyers for Eolas also did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Two of the patents cited in the latest lawsuits were declared invalid in February by a Texas jury in a separate lawsuit. That action targeted Amazon, Google, Yahoo and others. The process by which Eolas could launch new lawsuits concerning those same patents was unclear.

Eolas settled patent litigation with Microsoft in 2007 for an undisclosed amount. The UC system said at the time that its portion of the settlement was $30.4 million.

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