Home / Blogs

Does Eolas Patent Infringement Case Against Microsoft, Apple and Others Have Web Implications?

Constantine Roussos

Eolas, a technology company that was awarded $565 million in a patent infringement settlement against Microsoft in 2007 is embarking on another campaign against others under the same grounds of patent violation.

The latest lawsuit alleges that Apple and 22 companies are in violation of U.S. Patent Nos. 5,838,906 and 7,599,985, which involve embedded Web applications within a browser. The list of infringers also include Google/Youtube, Yahoo, Adobe, Amazon, Blockbuster, Citigroup, eBay, Frito-Lay, Go Daddy, J.C. Penney, JPMorgan Chase, Office Depot, Perot Systems, Staples, Sun Microsystems, Texas Instruments even adult-oriented Playboy.

The patent allows websites to add fully-interactive embedded applications via plug-ins and Ajax techniques, Eolas said in a statement about the lawsuit. "Intellectual property is the lifeblood of the U.S. economy," said Dr. Michael D. Doyle, chairman of Eolas. "The primary reason for this has been the success of the U.S. patent system in allowing the innovative company in a field to develop and market its new inventions without having competitors unfairly profit from the innovator's hard work. We developed these technologies over 15 years ago and demonstrated them widely, years before the marketplace had heard of interactive applications embedded in Web pages tapping into powerful remote resources. Profiting from someone else's innovation without payment is fundamentally unfair. All we want is what's fair."

Does this mean every company that employs the simple mechanism of starting a program from a web page liable for patent infringement? The reality of the matter is that Eolas patents have been upheld in court numerous times, granting them $545 million in litigation awards. The patent is quite "counter-internet" and even the founder of the World Wide Web, Sir Tim Berners-Lee expressed his discontent about the implications of the Eolas patent in a letter to the USPTO in 2003 and claimed that prior art should invalidate Eolas 5,838,906 patent.

What happens next remains to be seen. Patents need to be protected as intellectual capital vital to a company's business and global commerce. However, in the case of Eolas, the viability of the patent goes against the current wave of technology that naturally embed programs within web pages and browsers as a given. Being sued each time such technology is used is akin to Sir Tim Berners Lee patenting his invention of the World Wide Web and charging billions of web users for its use.

By Constantine Roussos, Founder of DotMusic
Follow CircleID on
Related topics: Law, Web
SHARE THIS POST

If you are pressed for time ...

... this is for you. More and more professionals are choosing to publish critical posts on CircleID from all corners of the Internet industry. If you find it hard to keep up daily, consider subscribing to our weekly digest. We will provide you a convenient summary report once a week sent directly to your inbox. It's a quick and easy read.

I make a point of reading CircleID. There is no getting around the utility of knowing what thoughtful people are thinking and saying about our industry.

Vinton Cerf, Co-designer of the TCP/IP Protocols & the Architecture of the Internet

Share your comments

To post comments, please login or create an account.

Related

Topics

DNS Security

Sponsored byAfilias

Domain Names

Sponsored byVerisign

IP Addressing

Sponsored byAvenue4 LLC

Cybersecurity

Sponsored byVerisign

New TLDs

Sponsored byAfilias