Microsoft Corporation is being sued by a company called SurfCast. SurfCast owns U.S. patent 6,724,403 (filed in October 2000 and issued in April 2004). SurfCast is suing Microsoft for the use of the Live Tiles user interface. Live Tiles first started being used on Windows Phone 7 two years ago. It appears that Microsoft’s move into selling their own PCs and tablets is the reason why SurfCast filed the complaint now.
The title of the patent is “System and method for simultaneous display of multiple information sources.” The summary of the patent is:
“A computerized method of presenting information from a variety of sources on a display device. Specifically the present invention describes a graphical user interface for organizing the simultaneous display of information from a multitude of information sources. In particular, the present invention comprises a graphical user interface which organizes content from a variety of information sources into a grid of tiles, each of which can refresh its content independently of the others. The grid functionality manages the refresh rates of the multiple information sources. The present invention is intended to operate in a platform independent manner.”
This lawsuit is similar to the approach that Apple is taking with Google. Since Google is not making any of their own hardware, Apple has been focused on suing Android hardware manufacturers. SurfCast also filed a complaint that Microsoft induced its partners to infringe the patent and contributed to that infringement.
SurfCast could have filed the lawsuit based on Windows Phone 7 earlier, but now that they can sue Microsoft the case becomes stronger.