Microsoft has been taken to court by a company from the United States over allegations that the Windows 8 operating system infringes a patent for a computer interface with live tiles.
"We developed the concept of Tiles in the 1990s, which was ahead of its time," SurfCast CEO Ovid Santoro said in a statement.
"Microsoft’s Live Tiles are the centerpiece of Microsoft’s new operating systems and are covered by our patent."
The patent (pdf) in question, number 6724403, was filed in 2000 and issued in February 2004.
Microsoft also has a patent on a tiled interface, issued in 2006 and which references the SurfCast patent.
The Microsoft patent was temporarily rejected by the US Patent and Trademark Office until Surfcast's patent was cited as prior art, reported Ars Technica.
SurfCast claims to have suffered "harm and injury" thanks to Microsoft's alleged patent infringement.
Surfcast touted its software as a "broadband interface" in 2004, calling it a "complete departure from the browser 'page paradigm' and WIMP (Windows, Icons, Menus, Pointers)."
Little is known about SurfCast, which names three former senior IBM staffers — Jim Cannavino, Klaus Laugermann and Bob Carberry — as its directors and founders.
Four others with a background in Deutsche Bank and equity firm Partner Capital are also listed as company executives.
The company itself is said to be founded in 1999 with funding in 2001 from Pennie and Edmonds and Deutsche Bank Capital.
This is not the first potential intellectual property strife Microsoft has encountered with Windows 8.
Just a few months before the launch of Windows 8, Microsoft had to dump the name "Metro" which it had been using for the live tile interface in the new operating system, after German retail chain Metro AG cited it as a trademark and threatened legal action.