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Re: Pei Wei's ViolaWWW project: Was it prior art?

From: Christopher Barber <cbarber@curl.com>
Date: Thu, 04 Sep 2003 10:17:04 -0400
Message-ID: <3F574960.3030802@curl.com>
To: "SerpentMage (Christian Gross)" <mailing@devspace.com>
Cc: Steven Pemberton <Steven.Pemberton@cwi.nl>, "Richard M. Smith" <rms@computerbytesman.com>, W3C Public Web Plugins List <public-web-plugins@w3.org>

SerpentMage (Christian Gross) wrote:

>
> Steven Pemberton wrote:
>
>>> Does anyone on the list know why the judge in the Eolas/Microsoft '906
>>> patent trial refuse to allow the jury to hear about Pei Wei's ViolaWWW
>>> work?  In particular, was it an issuing timing or was the Viola system
>>> somehow different than Mike Doyle's work?
>>>   
>>
>>
>> If I understand it right, the judge decided that Pei Wei's system wasn't
>> published in a suitable way to make it acceptable prior art.
>>
>> Prior art isn't just that you did it earlier, but that you also 
>> published it
>> for all the world to see.
>>
>>  
>>
> Ok, so let me get this straight...  Because the Internet was not as 
> widely known back then, and there were bits and bobs hanging around it 
> was not suitable?
>
> Essentially the judge is saying, "Hey if you see a demo, you can rip 
> it off because you were the one who *properly* documented it..."
>
> Holy cow, no wonder Microsoft is flabbergasted.  Now wonder Microsoft 
> is thinking of alternatives because this is absolutely lame!
>
> Sometimes I wonder about the justice system...
>
> I sure do hope this gets overturned by appeal.

I don't know what this ruling was about, but I believe that the US uses 
a "first-to-invent" rule for determining patent ownership, so it should 
not matter how or whether the work was published.  However, there is a 
rule that states that regardless of who invented it first, the patent 
must be filed for within one year of the first publication of the 
invention by any party (and in Europe there is no one-year grace 
period); perhaps MS was arguing that they had broken this rule.

Anyway, to me the patent seems to be a fairly obvious extension of the 
<image> tag concept, not that my opinion counts for anything...

- Christopher
Received on Thursday, 4 September 2003 10:39:58 UTC

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