W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > public-web-plugins@w3.org > September 2003

If MS pulls plug-in support, who do I sue

From: Russell Cowdrey <rcowdrey@usabilitysciences.com>
Date: Mon, 8 Sep 2003 17:02:22 -0500
Message-ID: <314DBF950AB6DB458E46005971E17A864C994A@mail.usabilitysciences.com>
To: "'public-web-plugins@w3.org'" <public-web-plugins@w3.org>

I've been reading for the past week or so and I don't have a master stroke
to overcome the patent since it seems to be very broad and to me the
inclusion of mime types or the like is just absurd.  I am with a small
company that has an interesting new technology which is based on ActiveX and
I just cannot see how my technology will survive if MS pulls support.  For
our small company we are talking millions in lost opportunity as well as a
lot of current revenue.  I say all this because the Macromedias of the world
concern me less than the little guy. 

Here is my thing.  If Microsoft was told in 1994 that they were in violation
of patent pending technology but pushed forward and standardized their
browser on this very technology, then what recourse do I have against
Microsoft?  I feel that they have created a marketplace under false
pretenses.  Can I sue the W3C's member organizations for creating a public
standard that was in violation? If I cannot sue either of these two parties,
can I sue the US patent office to demonstrate that this absurd software
patent is in violation of my rights to due process?  If my company is
expected to lose millions because a public standard was allowed to be
patented, then I have to be able to have my day in court.

I think we are hearing very little from Microsoft because I'm sure they are
trying to weigh the cost of the lawsuits to come over the cost of the patent
infringement.  Their best course of action is to come forward and put their
full weight behind an appeal and to overturn this stupid patent.  I really
think the ramifications are huge.  

I remember using a newsgroup reader on Next around 90 that I'm sure had some
of the mime like features and I think that should be considered a hypermedia
browsing application, but maybe it was just the cool visual interface that
captivated me so. Anyways, as many have stated, the idea of packing a
reference to an external program had already been done to death and any
programmer worth a lick would have come up with a suitable solution.

The thing is we have filed for two patents on our software, but purposely
narrowed the scope to be specific to our area of use so as to not deny some
other programmer the ability to use the solution we came up with in other
fields.   One of the patents could have been very broad.  At the time I was
of the opinion that you did it because everyone else was doing it, but now
I'm firmly in the camp that they should not be allowed.  Losing millions
will do that to you :-).  Software development moves much to fast for anyone
to keep up with all the new developments and thus stupid patents will
continue to get issued because of ignorance.  Here is to an end to software
patents.

Russell
Received on Monday, 8 September 2003 18:06:10 UTC

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