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Walmart, Facebook and Disney hit with patent suit

Walmart, Facebook and the Walt Disney Co. are the latest companies to have been dragged into a patent battle.

Eolas Technologies and the Regents of the University of California filed suit against the firms on Wednesday, Reuters reported.

The companies allegedly violated four patents for interactive technology, including hypermedia display and interaction, which were issued to the university and licensed to Texas-based Eolas, according to Reuters. No further details regarding the claims were available.

According to its website, Eolas was originally founded in order to assist the university in commercialising a patent, but then continued to work with UC to develop other technologies.

Since the University of California considered the patents public assets, a spokesman told Reuters that the school should be reimbursed a fair value "when a third party exploits that university asset for profit."

Facebook believes the complaint is without merit, a spokesman told PCMag, and the social network plans to fight it vigorously. Walmart is also looking into the matter, a spokesman said, adding that the retailer respects the intellectual property rights of others, and takes these allegations seriously.

Disney and Eolas did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Following a 2003 spat with Microsoft, in which Eolas won a $521 million (£321 million) settlement, the company turned on nearly two dozen companies – including Google, Apple, and Yahoo – for infringing on two Internet-related patents.

The first, which was the subject of the Microsoft lawsuit, focused on technology that turns Web browsers into fully interactive embedded applications. The second, which was used against Amazon, eBay, Facebook, and YouTube, concerned technology that allows sites to add those embedded applications.

The two patents were declared invalid by a Texas jury in February, in a separate lawsuit, according to Reuters.