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W3C Supports Microsoft In Patent Battle Against Eolas

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

31 October 2003


The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) announced this week that it is putting its weight firmly behind Microsoft in the firm's patent battle with Eolas Technologies.

The smaller company has so far been successful in its campaign to prove ownership of technology for accessing interactive programs embedded in web pages, and recently revealed that it had filed a motion to stop Microsoft from distributing Internet Explorer, alleging that the software giant's ActiveX technology contravenes its patent.

Microsoft has stated that it believes that it is justified in its use of ActiveX, and that it will appeal the ruling. However, it has also announced its intention to make subtle changes to Internet Explorer in order to sidestep Eolas' claims.

In a letter to the United States Patent and Trademark Office on Tuesday, Tim Berners-Lee, director of W3C, urged the US patent authorities to review the Eolas patent in order to "prevent substantial economic and technical damage to the operation of the world wide web."

He argued that Eolas was granted the patent improperly, and that the ideas put forward by the firm had prior art, and were therefore not original.

Experts have expressed concern that the Eolas campaign may eventually have implications for the widely-used html programming language, and for internet media software applications such as Macromedia's Flash, Adobe's Acrobat Reader, and Sun Microsystems' Java.

In his letter, Mr Berners-Lee warned that if Eolas is allowed to triumph in its dispute with Microsoft: "the cycle of innovation on the web would be substantially retarded."


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