Judicial decision may impact the use of plugins in browser

August 28th, 2003 § 1 comment

In recent news, a federal jury ruled that Microsoft violated a patent held by a company named Eolas regarding a mechanism for embedding objects within hypertext documents, which directly impacts the plugin technology used by Internet Explorer — and most other visual browsers in use today. In a official note released by the W3C — of which Microsoft is a member — the company has indicated it will soon make changes in its browser to comply with the ruling. Understandly, the W3C has invited all its members for an ad hoc meeting to discuss the potential impact of the ruling for the Web and to take any decisions concerning it.

I think it strange that Microsoft lost the case. I doubt no prior art exists for such technology — especially considering that the patent was granted to Eolas in 1998, when HTML was very well established and already supported the object tag, which implements said technology. In any case, the W3C is meeting, and a decision should be announced soon.

It will be interesting to see how the other companies and groups developing Web browsers will react to the news. I’m particularly interested in the responses of the open source community.

Anyway, I just wonder why Microsoft didn’t simply buy Eolas and its patent. It would probably be far more easier, and would also give them a good advantage. However, worst of all is to think of the technological cluelessness of the jury and judge that allowed such ruling.

§ One Response to Judicial decision may impact the use of plugins in browser

  • Jay Kint says:

    I see these cases and I see the commentary, and I often wonder too at how a judge and/or jury could possibly find for the patent holder. Still, are they being asked to judge the viability of the patent itself or the claim that a certain technology violated a patent? In the case of Microsoft’s browser, it clearly violates the patent. What isn’t clear is if the patent should have been granted in the first place. Just curious as to the legalities.

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