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US Patent Office Re-Examining Eolas Patent

by Glen Shapiro, LawAndTax-News.com, New York

13 November 2003


It has emerged that the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has ordered a re-examination of patent No. 5,838,906, granted to the University of California and Eolas Technologies for technology which allows web browsers to access external applications.

Following a ruling earlier this year in the Eolas/UC-Microsoft patent infringement case, which found that the software giant had infringed on the smaller firm's patent, Microsoft announced that although it believed that its use of the technology was justified, it was considering making changes to its Internet Explorer system in order to sidestep the issue.

This, coupled with the outcry from both commercial and private website owners, prompted the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) to call for a re-examination of the Eolas patent. The Consortium cited prior art which predated the '906 patent' as the reason for its call.

According to reports, an order for re-examination was initiated on October 30 by Stephen Kunin, the USPTO's deputy commissioner for patent examination policy.

"A substantial outcry from a widespread segment of the affected industry has essentially raised a question of patentability with respect to the 906 claims," he wrote, continuing: "This creates an extraordinary situation for which a director-ordered examination is an appropriate remedy."


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