ZDNet UK – News – Eolas wants Microsoft to stop browser distribution

The software giant asked for the new trial, citing several factors, including the unusual proportions of the jury's judgment and the court's refusal to allow discussion of some prior art or similar technology that Microsoft believes predated the Eolas patent and should therefore invalidate it. Microsoft mentioned one piece of prior art in particular, the Viola browser, invented by Perry Pei-Yuan Wei, an artist, software engineer and then a student at the University of California at Berkeley. That browser dates back to 1991 and its plug-in capabilities to 1992, nearly two years before Eolas filed for its patent.

The game is heating up! As I said yesterday I wondered why OLE technology, Lotus Notes R3,and the Viola browser were not discussed in the trial. Now we know the answer! The court refused to allow discussion of some prior art or similar technology.

The Eolas patent as I read it is very broad so I doubt Microsoft's browser remedies will stop the legal process. Obviously Eolas wants the cash and a license agreement from Microsoft. If this process continues the browser and plugin remedies will mess up a lot of Internet users. In this case the software patent process is flawed and is doing more harm than good. I have yet to find anyone in the industry supporting the Eolas patent despite the fact that many people loath Microsoft. That fact alone tells you something about the validity of prior art claims!