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media:Fw: Browser Plug-In Patent Reconsidered

From: David Poehlman <poehlman1@comcast.net>
Date: Thu, 13 Nov 2003 19:41:51 -0500
Message-ID: <004501c3aa48$5485adc0$6401a8c0@handsontech>
To: "wai-ig list" <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>


PCWorld.com -
Microsoft gets W3C allies in Eolas suit that prompted IE changes.

Laura Rohde, IDG News Service
Wednesday, November 12, 2003

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office is reexamining a patent for browser
plug-in technology that is the subject of a legal battle between the
patent's owners
and Microsoft.

The re-examination order was issued on October 30, according to the
patent office's Web site.

"Reexaminations of patents are fairly unusual," says Brigid Quinn, a
patent office spokespserson. "The patent will now go to the examiner's
dock and will
be handled like any other patent application."

The reexamination of patent number 5,838,906 (also known as the 906
patent) could take anywhere from 12 to 18 months, Quinn says.

Supporting Microsoft

The move comes after Tim Berners-Lee, director of the World Wide Web
Consortium (W3C),
sent a letter
to Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property James Rogan in
October, urging the patent office to invalidate the 906 patent.
Berners-Lee supports
Microsoft's contention that the patented technology is actually based on
"prior art," a legal term referring to technology that was already in
existence
when the patent was applied for. The patent was granted in November
1998.

The 906 patent was issued to the University of California Regents and is
licensed exclusively to Eolas Technologies, whose president, Michael
Doyle, developed
the technology at the University of California at San Francisco. The
patent covers technology that allows a person to embed interactive
content in a Web
site, describing in part "a system allowing a user of a browser
program...to access and execute an embedded program object."

Eolas sued Microsoft
in 1999 for patent violations.

Lost Round One

In August, a Chicago jury
ordered Microsoft to pay
$520.6 million in damages to Eolas Technologies and the University of
California Regents, for the violation of the 906 patent. The software
company is appealing
the ruling but has also said that it is
making changes
to Internet Explorer, which the W3C contends may affect a large number
of existing Web pages.

Due to its strong feelings, the W3C took the unusual step of involving
itself in the legal dispute and backing Microsoft. Berners-Lee and the
W3C presented
the USPTO with two prior art publications, "Raggett I" and "Raggett II,"
which the consortium said relate to HTML+, a proposed specification
extending
the features of HTML.

Representatives from the W3C, the University of California Regents,
Eolas Technologies, and Microsoft could not immediately be reached for
comment.
Received on Thursday, 13 November 2003 19:43:34 GMT

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