Lawsuit filed against Microsoft and its Live Tiles

A Federal lawsuit has been filed in U.S. District Court in Maine claiming Microsoft's Windows Phone Live Tiles infringe on four patents. The patents in question are held by SurfCast and the litigation involves Windows Phone 7, Windows Phone 7 and Windows 8 devices.

SurfCast is asking the Court to declare Microsoft directly and indirectly (through encouraging app development) guilty of infringing on their patents. The want Microsoft to be responsible for financial damages to SurfCast for this infringement.  No injunctive relief has been requestion preventing Microsoft from continuing to produce, sell or distribute the involved systems.

Granted Microsoft has their own patent on Live Tiles and while the two patents may be similar, they may not rise to an infringement level. A Microsoft spokesperson commented that the company is "confident we will prove to the Court that these claims are without merit and that Microsoft has created a unique user experience."

Not sure where this one is headed but you can find the full Court filing her (opens in new tab)e.

Source: The Next Web (opens in new tab), Via: Cnet (opens in new tab); Thanks, everyone, for the tip!

George is the Reviews Editor at Windows Central, concentrating on Windows 10 PC and Mobile apps. He's been a supporter of the platform since the days of Windows CE and uses his current Windows 10 Mobile phone daily to keep up with life and enjoy a game during down time.

  • I thought I tipped u guys about this but I checked and I forgot to do so
  • Okay, two years later?? This is bullsh*t just like the METRO UI thing......STUPID
  • They waited MS was past the point of no return to sue them.  Win8 and WP8 were just announced and released, MS can't delay and change gears.
  • +1
  • Sigh.... Hooray. More court cases.
  • clear sign that you've made it to the big time: Lawsuits
  • +1
  • WTF?
  • Just a patent troll.
  • THIS
  • Yep!
  • So they make a website and all they have on the website are statements that they hold patents to these ideas? What am I supposed to be buying from these people? What's new with this company? Ohhhh.. the only news there is about this company is how they just sued Microsoft. So they are a company that files patents and sues people. That's all I got from their website.
    "Hello, we are Surfcast. Our logo is catching fishes. We caught a big one this time. Now we are going to reel it in and get paid. Look at our website, we have patents for what we can sue you for."
  • ^ This guy right here hit the nail on the head. I was thinking the EXACT same thing. Microsoft shoujld tell them where to shove it. MS better win or I'll be angry.
  • Well, at least it's not Apple suing.  I certainly hope we can get some patent reform soon.  It's way overdue.
  • Microsoft will easily win this
  • I just went through one of their patents about live information on a tile in a grid. It's going to be a tough one for Microsoft. They will have to find a genuine innovation in the tiles and show what differs.
  • Yah.. Not even sure how is it different what those guys claim in their pattent from the normal windows OS functionality to arrange windows tiled up...been a feature there for years before those guys filed a patent
  • No - they won't, not without paying a massive amount of $, SurfCast have a strong case here sorry.
  • I'm all for protecting your IP, but who are these guys? What do they do? Why wait all this time to file a complaint? Lame!!!
  • You always get haters when you start shining. Microsoft is shining and the haters are jealous, wanna destroy Windows Phone but they lie bad. Windows Phone is gonna make it.
  • MS will easily settle this or the judge will throw it out. Regardless, the lawsuit doesn't apply to Windows Phone ;)
  • I laughed when I read this..
    Btw checked out weave app it feels like windowsphone8..
  • wow, their site looks as fake as it can be. I think it was just created yesterday by a kid!!!
    Ig they thought of Tiles concept, you would think they have made a better website.
  • My thoughts exactly, this looks like the sort of practice site I had to build when I was first learning how to code websites. A good designer can throw this together in ab hour or less, I call bull on the legitimacy of this company.
  • It's just a patent troll. All those companies do is buy in patents and look for someone to possibly infringe them then file a lawsuit. They don't plan to ever make any produc  with those patents, it's stictly about lawsuits.
    You can read up on this on wikipedia:
  • Dang Squatter. I mean Windows 7 Tiles had been out for years. They don't file a lawsuit until Microsoft releases all their new applications and hardware so they could maximize their lawsuit $$$.
  • Yeah, it's lame, but the law is the law. Until our lame representatives actually do something about it then there's no sense in complaining. The USA sucks and this is just another example of why.
  • Yes, international patent law is sooooo much better than us... Oh wait, no, it's just as stupid.
  • Looking at the patent documents, they haven't got a chance in hell. Trolls.
  • Actually, Microsoft has a patent granted at about the same time for their implementation of "live tiles" - originally for mobile, but easily attributable to "mobile" systems I suppose.  SurfCast will have to also prove that their patent isn't already covered by Microsoft's patent with regards to this IP - it'll drag on, and there'll probably be a settlement if Microsoft doesn't think it can win outright (which it might be able to do, given it DOES have a patent on what it's doing here).  Either way, should be interesting - I read their patent, and it's pretty crappy what they've patented.  Just a personal opinion of course, and it would depend on what a judge/jury thought of it, but from cursory glance it appears to be more towards WEB-based "tiles", which would be something Google Chrome OS would infringe upon more than Microsoft's Live Tiles in an offline/mobile OS.  Just my 2/100ths of a dollar here.
  • Funny, how they stayed silent when Windows Phone 7 came out and a lot of people wrote it off. Now that the metro UI is expanding across Microsoft and is being accepted as popular and cool, now they speak up. Funny that, indeed.
  • Technically live tiles can go back to the WM6 Titanium homescreen. They were rectangles back then, but more than a few of them were "live", retrieving data to update information. Honestly, I would hate to have a giant company steal my small business's customers, but there comes a point where you are just too late to the game; MS has already deployed the concept further than surfcast ever could, and at this point you're just fucking over consumers. Even if MS is truly infringing, they're being dicks by limiting consumer choice, or rendering investments made by consumers worthless...
  • I read this and my head just sang “Bullshit, oh bullshit, oh bullshit indeed" :)
  • This is lame!
  • The tile patent was published in 2011, I'm pretty sure WP came out in 2010.
  • Surely patents office should have flagged this during the setup process.
  • wow thats just crap, it seems like every one is lined up to take a shot at microsoft lately. Well i say F*** surfcast and F*** MetroAG for these bogus ass lawsuits surfcasts website looks like a toddler wrote it. This is just a play for money and i hope microsoft Rams these fools straight into the ground.
  • MetroAG didn't sue MS
  • Because Microsoft agreed to change the name of the design language
  • I didn't think MetroAG were involved at all. I believe that Microsoft went for the world-wide trademarks for "Metro", saw that MetroAG already had them and so they decided to change it on their own volition.
  • Microsoft has decided to leave the 'Metro' branding for its new user interface on the battlefield with Metro AG and work on a fitting replacement. clearly they did it to avoid courtroom fiascos
  • No what is really funny, is that 4 of the 7 "about" Directors are venture capitalists - and that they have ZERO product.
    These are typical IP patent trolls. Holding onto generic ideas to later cash in. If a company has a product or someone blatantly copies them then patents are there to protect that. Its fair. But when someone doesn't even have a darn prodcut or OS (ironically their diagram shows Windows XP as the base of their "idea") to base it on, they are just chancing their arm.
  • Damn it, another patent troll. These kinds of suits should be outlawed, if you have no product, you have no right to sue. Definitelly the patent system in the US needs a big reform, everyone knows it but the guys who should actually do it, and they just ignore it. 
    I hope Microsoft quickly kicks their butts into oblivion.
  • You say if you have no product you can not sue. And that is not right. What is with all the patents about abstract thing that nobody has build or produced, they still have patents on them. But i too think this is a "company" which saw what microsoft do back in 2010 and patented some stuff before microsoft did. Just an another way described :)
  • Losers. Surfcast? Nice name. Have fun having no business after this is done.
  • Maybe they only wanted publicity with this sue. Now 500 users on wp central know about surfcast.
  • "[...]Windows Phone 7, Windows Phone 7 and Windows 8 devices."
  • I agree, the website is a joke. I think their "live tiles" just died.
  • BB10 better watch out then also, coz arent they usin "live tile" type things also? but thats stupid still no product no chance in hell. btw how can MS have been sued for using the name metro? i didnt realise untill the law suit that it was a TM name? surely the paris metro, NY metro and every other metro in the world should be sued then?? stupid stupid stupid. XD
  • Well reading the patent I don't think their system was meant like Live Tile.  Just reading it and looking at the pictures it was just supposed to show "live" tiles as in your windows arranged in a grid pattern each showing the window of the applciation that is open which is not what live tiles actually is about.  The only reason they call it original is because they said a "tile" is smaller than a window which implies windows actually have a limited size but they don't.  I can make a window 1 pixel big if I wanted to.  So all they did was take windows and auto arrange a grid.  Hardly worthy of a patent even in the year 2000 when it was filed.
    Now the idea of their Live tiles sound the same but there is no real basis to even be allowed to have a patent.  but it was just that reading through it, it just sounds like they had an idea and no way to actually implement it at the time.  How should that be allowed to be awarded.  
    How about I patent the concept of a warp drive just in case it gets invented.  No idea how it works but I can be abstract enough: "This patent covers the idea that a device (called a "drive") through various means either bending space, openings a self contained wormhole, placing itself into a self contained pocket of space, will be able to travel through space at speeds faster than light can travel.  Implementations of this could be a vessel designed to fly through space attached to this drive, or the drive attached to this vessel.  In addition we can attach the drive to a satellite and allow it to travel through space.  Other uses could be a bicycle to get across country very quickly."  Ok NASA call me first an maybe I will license you my drive technology.
    That is how ridiculously vague these patent filings are now days.
  • You sir the nail on the head. The analogy is hilarious.
  • That's the worst thing is that the patents are vague as hell
  • SurfCast's website certainly is rudimentary, but I don't think it is entirely accurate to label these guys patent trolls. Having read the Patent filed in 2000, issued in 2004, they most certainly appear to have--at least on paper--come up with the concept of resizeable, draggable tiles with live data on them, conveying the same info that our beloved Windows Phones do. To me a patent troll is someone who shops for patents for the express purpose of vexatious litigation of someone with deep pockets--these guys appear to have had the original idea and whether or not the idea was executed, they did put the idea on paper in substantial detail. That's not to say Microsoft stole the idea--it is conceivable that Microsoft independently came up with the idea by a separate path. This has happened before. One example is Aviation Partners and Boeing simultaneously discovering the split-tip winglet which will be installed on the next iteration of the venerable 737- the 737MAX. I SurfCast have a real shot at winning this. That said, I love my Windows Phone and hope Bell will get on board with the Nokia 920.
  • Pretty simple in this case - they are just looking for a payday. They didn't file for a couple years and are not seeking injunctive relief. Personally, unless there are ramifications for future product development they may just drag it out a bit and then settle.
  • Not only is the site crap, but all it does is talk about the patents. What company lists their patents as a main highlight but doesn't have any product to show how good it is? This will be thrown out.
  • Haters gonna hate...
  • What a scam...
  • Ok let me start with I haven't read the patents but by reading the comment from ppl who have I came to a conclusion plz keep in mind I don't know exact time frame... Begin rant... Ok so this company came up with this idea in 2000 when windows ME was out yeah I remember those days... Now assuming they started to work on the project there and then gives this company 10 year advance on MS, now even if they got patent rights in 2004 gives them 6 years before WP7 even came out and now 2 mobile OS(windows phone 7&8) and what 3 generations of Windows now (windows vista, 7 ,and now 8) and your telling me this company couldn't come up with at least a prototype of this product?! This lawsuit should have no basis to stand on at all even if this company was a one man team I believe the time frame allows for at least a prototyp /rant... I hope this company get there theeth knocked out of them for there stupidity go MS
  • I was researching and I found how their website was in 2010. Nothing about live tiles... Now they say?
  • this is 2005. Nothing about tiles. Yet, I love how they talk about what stuff they patent... These guys are obsessed with patents.
  • ...and here is a link to their application from 2005.
    It's near-complete and the UI is nothing like the Live Tiles in W(P)8.  It's more like the tiling window managers from the *nix world.  Reminds me of an application-level implementation of ratpoison or kahaki.
  • [double-post]
  • I refuse to accept any pictures with a portable CD player on them
  • I don't think Surfcast can get what they want. The main reason is just what they state: Microsoft already know this patent and cite it as a "prior art" when Microsoft filed their own patent. Microsoft's legal team must be so stupid that they filed a patent infringes its own prior art. And USPTO staff must be so blind that they granted a patent which is just rewritten from its own prior art.
    Given there are so many patents out there, it is virtually unavoidable to infringe some UNNOTICED patents for a new product. But if an apparently similar patent is known and well studied, as long as it's not 100% exactly the same, the patent attorney can always managed to circumvent the claim and make it valid.
    Don't be fooled by the illustrations and descriptions of patents. No matter how similar they look alike, the only thing matters in court is what they put after "what is claimed is......".
  • This Surfcast might be receiving money from Google. :P
  • $10 says Google is bankrolling Surfcast's legal team...
  • Look at the drawings of this patent... it's an application design, not operating system design. Pretty sure this can't hold up in court, but meh when Apple can win a device is rectangle lawsuit, who knows.
    Still, the drawings clearly show the methodology in the partent as an application in itself, not as an operating system. In, Microsoft's favor you don't open an application to view the tiles, they are the main part of the OS.
  • Let me get this strait. These guys claim to be OS designers and they can't even update their gheto ass "Blue Host" favicon? With what I'm assuming is their $3.95 per month plan. Fake company, fake website.
  • At minimum, patent reform requires a statute of limitations. There is no conceivable way Surfast had no clue about Microsoft's Live Tiles until just now. IMO, they purposely and willfully with malicious intent delayed their lawsuit purely for the purpose of increasing the amount of potential damages from Microsoft. That in an of itself should be grounds for invalidating any and all claims Surfast has against Microsoft or anyone developing software using Microsoft technology, including Mono or similar projects.
  • Let me get this strait. These guys claim to be OS designers and they can't even update their gheto ass "Blue Host" favicon? With what I'm assuming is their $3.95 per month plan. Fake company, fake website = Bullshit!
  • whenever someone rise than there is always someone to pull there leg bullshit
  • They will have one enormous problem. As Surfast stated in their complaint, the Patent Examiner issued the Microsoft Patent AFTER considering them in the light of Surfcast's Patent.  That is why there was no request for injunctive relief. Jusdes don't know boo about technology, but they do give deference to any examiner's opinion that an invention is distinct from the Prior Art, hence this is going nowhere fast, and franly, probably nowher in general.
  • Lol, financial damages? They don't have one product that would be impacted, what financial damages? They are looking for a quick pay day.
  • Oh come on! Patent on tiles? Can't we just call Anonymous on SurfCast's asses? Hack the living crap out of 'em.
  • Hack what? They have nothing worthy of hacking or damaging. Maybe they can put a troll face on that girl fishing. That's about it.
  • [QUOTE]"the litigation involves Windows Phone 7, Windows Phone 7 and Windows 8 devices."[/QUOTE]
    Did I read that correctly?
  • Their 'Tiles' patent took place in July 2011.  Fail.

  • Everything in their patents in keyboard/mouse based.
  • THIS JUST IN....
    SURFcast is now sueing Microsoft for the SURFace due to the first four letters matching. 
  • but didn't MS already recieved patent for their Metro/Modern UI??
  • yeah the few people who make up the company are purely financial twats, they claim to make user interfaces....yet have no mention of any products they've worked on
    couldn't be arsed to read the patent crap, after the 1st page of the 2004 patent, it just looked like shit, i can't see them having a leg to stand on, surprised they haven't crammed their page full of ads to profit from the increased traffic they get from suing people, when us "customers" go, who the fuck are surfcast and check out their P.O.S. site...only to come to the conclusion most of us have, they are nobody, just a bunch of businessmen out to troll for vague patent infringements on their pitiful patents
    anyone can draw a picture and add some bollocks text with it, they clearly have nobody who knows anything about any form of coding, or their site would be at least a little better...honestly, i'd have done a better job (have done before), and i know nothing about html/java/flash
    interesting thing, their site background looks a little like an oldschool MS wallpaper ripped directly from win 98, MS should sue...good luck to them, i've seen quadraplegics with more legs to stand on
  • Their website sure has a nice user interface. //s
    Looks like some attorneys and accountants got hold of a free website design program and played a drinking game with it.
  • Now everyone is learning Apple's ways.
  • The screen really sold me when I first saw the oringal Focus, 2 years ago already!