The idea that someone could actually own a patent on the Web may sounds ridiculous to you. Alas, in these days of intellectual property (IP) lawsuits, it isn’t only possible, it’s actually happened. For years, Eolas has been successfully suing major companies like Microsoft for violation of its Web patents. So when Eolas went after Amazon, Google, Yahoo and other Internet powers for running Website with “interactive” features such as streaming video it was no laughing matter. But, in a victory against software patents, a jury in the U.S. District Court in East Texas, ruled against Eolas.
Eolas had long claimed that its two software patents 7,599,985 and 5,838,906 covered much of we now consider part and parcel of today’s Web. Microsoft finally surrendered and other technology giants like Texas Instruments, Oracle and JP Morgan Chase paid off Eolas. But other companies weren’t so quick to give up. Experts, like Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the Web’s creator; Pei-Yuan Wei, creater of the early Viola Web browser; and Dave Raggettm who created the <embed> tag have long contended that Eolas’ claims were invalid.
While it was clear to the experts—and to your author who was the first person to report on the Web back in 1993–that Eolas’ claims were bogus, until this decision Eolas had managed to maintain its patents against all comers.