Microsoft sued by SurfCast over its Live Tiles feature

Microsoft sued by SurfCast over its Live Tiles feature

By | November 1st, 2012
1 Comment on Microsoft sued by SurfCast over its Live Tiles feature

Microsoft has ended up in a soup after a company called SurfCast sued it on

charges that the Live Tiles feature used extensively in Windows 8 devices

has already been patented by it. The company has asked Microsoft to pay for

all damages caused by infringing upon its patents.


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Trouble has started brewing for Microsoft barely a week after its announcement of Windows Phone 8 and Windows 8 related releases. A company called SurfCast has claimed that it had already patented the Live Tiles feature in its patent number 6,724,403 (’403): “System and method for simultaneous display of multiple information sources.” This patent in question was filed in the year 2000 and was granted in 2004 to the company which holds only a total of four patents in its name. The company’s homepage says that they design “Operating System technology” and introduces the Tiles concept as “something that can be thought of as dynamically updating icons. A Tile is different from an icon because it can be both selectable and live.”

The accusing company has cited Microsoft’s own patent number 7,933,632 (’632): “Tile space user interface for mobile devices.” The graphics in both the patents do look a lot similar to each other and Microsoft’s patent even mentions SurfCast’s version as “prior art”, but it is really difficult to judge whether the Microsoft’s version was indeed copied from the earlier version. The repeated patent wars in the software technology industry have made it a hotbed of such cases where it is equally likely that SurfCast is only doing it for some easy cash, which it is likely to receive in damages from Microsoft if it wins the case. But what’s important here is that Live Tiles isn’t any new feature released with Windows 8, it has been there ever since Windows Phone 7 was first shown off two years ago.

SurfCast has further stated that since Microsoft has also promoted its app developers to use such live tiles, those app developers who submit their app to the Windows store are also infringing upon the company’s patent. According to The Next Web, it has asked Microsoft to “account and pay to SurfCast all damages caused to SurfCast by reason of Microsoft’s patent infringement.” Microsoft has released a statement in response saying that “We are confident we will prove to the court that these claims are without merit and that Microsoft has created a unique user experience”

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Ankit Mathur
I have a crush on Java, open source and linux. I also love flirting with almost all other stuff related to mobile and web technologi​es. Feel free poke fun at my articles and I tweet: