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September 13, 2003

Microsoft vs Eolas Patent update

Zeldman pointed out that a federal judge has “rejected Microsoft’s post-trial claim that Eolas misrepresented the facts in the case…ending Microsoft’s first attempt to challenge the result.”

There are many news and commentary posts on this subject out there today and there will be more in the next few days. Thankfully far more people are talking about it this time around than when the suit first ended or when the W3C conference was held. This decision will affect everyone who uses the web, not just the companies and individuals which own or develop the browsers and web sites. Eolas has offered little information about it’s future plans regarding this patent. Will it go after Opera and Mozilla(Netscape)? Opera and Mozilla cannot afford to recode or pay fines. If Eolas pursues them with this patent it is likely that they will cease producing a browser, so much for competition and choice.

Microsoft is not going to succeed in the courts, unless they can invalidate the patent. The current legal moves appear to be stalling tactics. They will run out of time by the end of November. At that point they will have 30 days to fulfill the injunction. Of course maybe Lotus Notes could help them. Ray Ozzie thinks Lotus Notes 3.0 clearly qualifies as prior art, invalidating the Eolas patent. That UC– guardians of BSD – are behind Eolas provides only minor comfort that Eolas may provide a multi-tiered licensing structure that is compatible with the open source movement (and thus usable by Mozilla).

Software patents are quickly becoming an issue for everyone. We need to make them go away now, call it a failed intellectual exercise.

Posted by Eric at September 13, 2003 01:51 PM | TrackBack
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