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From "Noel J. Bergman" <n...@devtech.com>
Subject RE: FW: Microsoft's patent loss rattles tech community
Date Sat, 06 Sep 2003 19:41:02 GMT
Brian,

You asked about what evidence there might be that Eolas intends to enforce
the patent against other companies than Microsoft, particularly Open Source
projects.  To quote an article Eolas publishes on their web site
(http://www.eolas.com/PatentWarPendingOverApplets.pdf):

  Eolas plans to provide royalty-free licenses to individual and academic
  users of applets, commercial users would be charged for each piece of
  software that uses the embedded applications.  That charge could range
  from 50 cents per piece of software for heavy users (on the order of 1
  million units) all the way up to $5 per unit for more limited usage.

That is from a 1995 interview with Eolas CEO Mike Doyle, at a time when
Netscape had 75% marketshare.  The discussion is all about Netscape,
Spyglass and Sun, not Microsoft, and makes fairly broad claims regarding the
patent's impact.  Microsoft became the target of litigation only because of
marketshare and opportunism, not philosophy.

Eolas says that they are staking a claim to own the ability to deploy
client-side interactive web applications.  That makes this an Open Source
and Open Standards issue, not a pro-/con-Microsoft issue.  I don't really
care who the particular antagonist(s) and protagonist(s) are in the patent
litigation.  This is about the <APPLET>, <EMBED>, <OBJECT>, and <SCRIPT>
tags in HTML, along with other analogous and related technologies.

A copy of the court ruling is here:
http://www.computerbytesman.com/906patent/ruling.pdf.  It is interesting to
note that the judge wrote that Mike Doyle was untruthful both in the patent
application to the USPTO and to the Court.  But he also indicates that he
found in favor of Eolas partially because "the financial loss Microsoft
would bear under a worst case scenario is large but easily bearable."
Basically, he says that Microsoft put on a poor defense, and can afford the
loss.

The W3C has created a mailing list
(http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/public-web-plugins/) on the patent
issues.

One interesting observation on the list from several Europeans is that since
the patent is US only, a US only version of browsers should eliminate all
interactivity features, and the rest of the world could continue to have
them.

	--- Noel


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