Facebook, Disney & Wal-Mart Sued by University of California

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Eolas, the Texas based company that has been licensed a number of patents granted to the University of California, is back to its ambulance chasing ways again today. Eolas, who sued Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) in 2007 has earned the reputation as a “patent troll” in recent years.

Facebook, Disney & Wal-Mart Sued by University of California

When Eolas settled with Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) regarding what it believed was the unlawful use of its browser plug-in technology, the company never released details of the figure it settled for with the Redmond, WA powerhouse. The University of California, however, suggested the settlement was in the neighborhood of $31 million.

In addition to Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT), Oracle Corporation (NASDAQ:ORCL) and Texas Instruments also have the distinction of being members in the less than exclusive club, that is companies that have been sued by Eolas.

That club is apparently recruiting new members as The Walt Disney Company (NYSE:DIS), Facebook Inc (NASDA:FB), and Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (NYSE:WMT) were each served with writs today that notified them that Eolas was pursuing damages related to four patents related to interactive technology, including hypermedia display and interaction. Each of these patents were awarded to the University of California when Eolas chairman, Michael Doyle, and his team were working for the University of California-San Francisco.

Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) immediately announced, through a spokesperson, that the lawsuits were frivolous and lacked any merit. They also suggested that they would use their sizable legal team to fight each allegation tooth and nail. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (NYSE:WMT) simply stated that the respect all intellectual property from whichever Missouri cave they are headquartered in this week. The Walt Disney Company (NYSE:DIS), as of this afternoon, had declined to comment.

Is this simply a trickle down effect due to Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)’s recent victory over Samsung? Perhaps. Is Eolas a company that simply likes to sue others in hope of a settlement? We shall see.

What makes this story more interesting, or insane, is the fact that is seems at least two of the patents mentioned in this new round of lawsuits were declared invalid recently by a Texas jury when Eolas was suing Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG), Yahoo! Inc. (NASDAQ:YHOO), and Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN). It’s a bit bizarre that Eolas feels it can launch a second attack on these new giants given this ruling.

If they are simply looking for a settlement, they may wish to reconsider that course of action.

“We will fight it vigorously,” said a spokesperson for Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB). Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) faces several lawsuits related to its IPO.

“We take these allegations seriously and are looking into the matter,” added a spokesperson for Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (NYSE:WMT).

It looks as though Eolas is punching out of its weight class, but, they did beat Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT).

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