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'We invented Windows 8 Tiles in the 1990s', says firm suing Microsoft

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Microsoft had barely got Windows 8 out the door before it was slapped with a patent lawsuit related to the new OS.

Software and OS design tech firm SurfCast has filed a suit in Maine over Live Tiles, which it says it invented. The company has just four patents, but one of them, filed in 2000 and granted in 2004, deals with a "system and method for simultaneous display of multiple information sources".

Although Microsoft has been going on about Tiles since Windows Phone 7 became available two years ago, the launch of Windows 8, Windows Phone 8 and Surface fondleslabs have spurred the Surfcast to take legal action. Presumably, SurfCast didn't mind Redmond infringing on its patents when it was just Windows Phone 7, but a fully rounded lineup that looks like it could make some good money is the last straw.

Microsoft's Live Tiles sit on a phone (or nowadays a fondletop or desktop) start screen and update with real time information from websites, twitter, photos, email etc.

SurfCast's tiles, as described by its website, are "dynamically updating icons" that do pretty much the same thing.

"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," the site says.

The company has complained to the court that not only has Microsoft infringed its tile patent, but it's also encouraging developers to do so by asking them to come up with tiles for their apps.

"We developed the concept of Tiles in the 1990s, which was ahead of its time," Ovid Santoro, CEO of SurfCast, said on the website. "Microsoft's Live Tiles are the centrepiece of its new operation systems and are covered by our patent."

Microsoft had not responded to a request for comment at the time of publication. ®

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