Now Microsoft finds themselves on the losing end of a patent battle with Eolas Technologies, who apparently came up with a way to embed programs into webpages. At least that's the description given in the article - which isn't particularly clear. Eolas claims that Microsoft took their technology and put it into Internet Explorer. Microsoft claims that (a) the patent is invalid and (b) even if it is valid, they didn't infringe. They're going to appeal. Again, I tend to side against any patent related ruling when it comes to software patents, which just don't make any sense to me. The judge chose the amount to fine Microsoft - $520 million - based on a "fair" charge of $1.47 per copy of Windows shipped. So, if the technology was in Internet Explorer - a free product, how is it that the charges are based on the number of copies of Windows? This is yet another case where it's completely possible (and, in fact, likely) that two companies (if not more) came up with similar ideas and then went and coded them. Unless there's evidence that Microsoft specifically stole code from Eolas, I'd say this is yet another example of why our patent system needs to be reformed.
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