This had to happen sooner or later – the lawsuit(s), that is. Not a week after the launch of Windows 8, Windows RT, and Windows Phone 8, a company called SurfCast has sued Microsoft over the Live Tiles feature of these OSs.

Even though Windows Phone 7 – released a couple of years ago – used Live Tiles, SurfCast claims they filed their patent back in October 2000. Theirs was patent # 6,724,403 and was finally issued in April 2004.

SurfCast describes the feature as tiles that:

“can be thought of as dynamically updating icons. A Tile is different from an icon because it can be both selectable and live — containing refreshed content that provides a real-time or near-real-time view of the underlying information.”

This description and some of the diagrams from the patent show a striking similarity (to me at this stage) to Microsoft’s Live Tiles. TNW quotes from the patent application:

The technologies include patent 6,724,403 (’403): “System and method for simultaneous display of multiple information sources.”

The ’403 patent covers the method of “presenting information from variety of sources on a display device.” It details a graphical user interface that ”organizes content from a variety of information sources into grid of tiles each of which can refresh its content independently of the others.”

SurfCast says claims the patent infringement affects all versions of Windows 8 and Windows RT, but not Windows Phone 8.  The patents diagrams are shown below for your comparison:



SurfCast requests that orders are submitted showing that Microsoft has directly infringed, and are also ordering Microsoft to “account and pay to SurfCast all damages caused to SurfCast by reason of Microsoft’s patent infringement.”

Legal experts indicate that this may simply be a trolling maneuver for cash, since SurfCast –while owning three patents– have not made or sold anything of its own since they were founded in 2001. The quickest and easiest way out for Microsoft may simply be to reach a quick settlement assuming SurfCast does not get too greedy.

Do yo see a resemblance between the two applications?

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