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News Release: World Wide Web Consortium Presents US Patent Office with Evidence Invalidating Eolas Patent

From: Janet Daly <janet@w3.org>
Date: Tue, 28 Oct 2003 21:31:35 -0800
Message-ID: <3F9F50B7.1010908@w3.org>
To: w3c-news <w3c-news@w3.org>

For the first time in its history, the World Wide Web Consortium has 
appealed to the US Patent and Trademark office to reinvestigate a 
patent, and has provided evidence of prior art which it believes 
invalidates the patent grant. For more information, please contact Janet 
Daly, W3C Head of Communications, or the W3C Communications Team 
representative nearest you.


World Wide Web Consortium Presents US Patent Office with Evidence
Invalidating Eolas Patent

W3C Director Tim Berners-Lee urges USPTO Director to review prior art,
take action

Contact Americas, Australia --
     Janet Daly, <janet@w3.org>, +1.617.253.5884 or +1.617.253.2613
Contact Europe --
     Marie-Claire Forgue, <mcf@w3.org>, +33.492.38.75.94
Contact Asia --
     Yasuyuki Hirakawa <yasuyuki@w3.org>, +81.466.49.1170

Web resources

This press release:

Letter from Tim Berners-Lee to USPTO Director James Rogan

W3C's Prior Art Filing

http://www.w3.org -- 29 October 2003 -- The World Wide Web Consortium
(W3C), the global standard-setting body for the Web, has presented the
United States Patent and Trademark Office with prior art establishing
that US Patent No. 5,838,906 (the '906 patent) is invalid and should
therefore be re-examined in order to eliminate this unjustified
impediment to the operation of the Web. The W3C is urging US Under
Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property James E. Rogan to
initiate a re-examination of the patent because the critical prior art
was neither considered at the time the patent was initially examined and
granted, nor during recent patent infringement litigation.

In an unprecedented step, Tim Berners-Lee, W3C Director and inventor of
the Web, sent a letter today to Under Secretary Rogan requesting that
his office reinvestigate the matter. "W3C urges the USPTO to initiate a
reexamination of the '906 patent in order to prevent substantial
economic and technical damage to the operation of World Wide Web,"
stated Berners-Lee. "The impact of this patent will be felt not only by
those who are alleged to directly infringe, but all whose web pages and
application rely on the stable, standards-based operation of browsers
threatened by this patent. In many cases, those who will be forced to
incur the cost of modifying Web pages or software applications do not
even themselves infringe the patent - assuming it is even valid."

The decision to contact the USPTO directly was made by W3C's HTML Patent
Advisory Group.

The '906 Patent Affects Broad Range of Web Functionality

The object embedding technology has been part of the HTML standard since
the early days of the Web. This feature, supposedly covered by the '906
patent, provides critical flexibility to Web browsers, and giving users
seamless access to important features that extend the browsers'
capabilities. Nearly every Web user today relies on plug-in applications
that add services such as streaming audio and video, advanced graphics
and a variety of special purpose tools.

Changes forced by the '906 patent will also have a permanent impact on
millions of historically important Web pages. In many cases, these pages
contain non-commercial content or older material that is not generating
revenue. As a result, there is no way to cover the cost of modifying
those pages to bring them into compliance with whatever changes are made
in response to the '906 patent.
The '906 Patent has disruptive impact on established Web standards

If the '906 patent remains in force, Web page authors who have followed
Web standards for embedding objects will face a need for additional
work, as browsers are re-engineered to avoid the patented features. Even
though page authors haven't violated the patent, they will still bear
the cost of rewriting Web pages or software applications, as browsers
will no longer be able to perform in the manner they once did.

Critical, Previously Unreviewed Prior Art points to Invalidity of '906

The sole difference between the Web browser described in the '906 patent
and typical browsers that the patent itself acknowledges as prior art,
is that, with prior art browsers, the content is displayed in a new
window, whereas, with the '906 browser, the content is displayed in the
same window as the rest of the Web page. But that feature (i.e.,
displaying, or embedding, content generated by an external program in
the same window as the rest of a Web page) was already described in the
prior art filing submitted by W3C.

Commissioner should act given huge costs to the Web and prior art not
considered during the initial patent examination

The '906 patent will cause cascades of incompatibility to ripple through
the Web. Yet, it's not too late to remedy this problem. The material W3C
presented in its Section 301 filing clearly establishes that the '906
patent is invalid. W3C believes that the Commissioner of the Patent and
Trademark Office can and should order a re-examination of the '906 patent.

About the World Wide Web Consortium [W3C]

W3C -- an international organization made up of nearly 400 Members from
industry, academe, users' organizations and public policy experts -- is
responsible for setting the core technical standards for the World Wide
Web. Since its launch by Tim Berners-Lee, Web inventor, in 1994, W3C has
led the development of Web standards and, with these standards,
established the basic architecture for the World Wide Web. W3C has
produced nearly 60 technical Recommendations ranging from the HyperText
Markup Language (HTML) and the Extensible Markup Language (XML) to
digital signatures, Cascading Style Sheets (CSS), guidelines for Web
accessibility, and the Platform for Privacy Preferences (P3P). It is
jointly run by MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence
Laboratory (MIT CSAIL) in the USA, the European Research Consortium for
Informatics and Mathematics (ERCIM) headquartered in France and Keio
University in Japan. For more information see http://www.w3.org/
Received on Wednesday, 29 October 2003 00:31:59 UTC

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