Patent Troll Sues Microsoft Over Windows Live Tiles

Microsoft has just launched Windows 8 and it has already been downloaded over 4 million times in four days. With the launch of Windows 8, Microsoft has also attracted a patent troll that claims its rights over the Live Tiles used on Windows 8, Windows Phone 8 and the Surface tablet.


A company called SurfCast that claims to design operating systems is suing Microsoft for the use of Live Tiles. If you visit the SurfCast website, you will clearly see that their technical expertise is still stuck in the 1990’s but their legal and patent-trolling expertise seems to have kept pace with the industry. SurfCast owns four patents, one of which deals with Live Tiles. The verge writes,

SurfCast owns US Patent #6,724,403, which was filed in October 2000 and issued in April 2004. Broadly, the patent covers selecting a variety of information sources, assigning each of those sources to a tile, and updating those tiles at variable refresh rates.

SurfCast defines its own patent as,

Tiles 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 is as abstract as it gets, because this description matches all kinds of widgets.

Live Tiles constitutes the flagship UI of Windows Phone and Windows 8. Microsoft showed off the Windows 8 UI for the first time back in June 2011. It has been 16 months since then, and Microsoft has come a long way with Live Tiles. SurfCast on the other hand, own this patent for the last eight years, and has been sitting atop it all this time, waiting for someone to use it so that it can cry foul.

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Chinmoy Kanjilal

Chinmoy Kanjilal is a FOSS enthusiast and evangelist. He is passionate about Android. Security exploits turn him on and he loves to tinker with computer networks. You can connect with him on Twitter @ckandroid.