Microsoft Using Eolas Patent They're Fighting In Their Own New Patent

from the um...-waita-second dept

theodp writes “All the public crying Microsoft’s been doing over the Eolas web plug-in patent hasn’t stopped the software giant from privately laying its own patent claims on HTML <OBJECT> tags. On Tuesday, the USPTO granted Microsoft a broadened patent on “automatic software downloading from a computer network”. Ironically, the cited references include not only the Eolas patent, but also the same prior art that Microsoft and the W3C used to argue that Eolas’ patent should be overturned by the USPTO and U.S. Court of Appeals. “

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Comments on “Microsoft Using Eolas Patent They're Fighting In Their Own New Patent”

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Oliver Wendell Jones (profile) says:

Ok, enough's enough

Does anyone at the USPTO really even try to review a patent or do they just rubberstamp everything with a check attached?

I’m not trying to be a smart-ass, but shouldn’t someone have said “hey, this Microsoft patent sounds vaguely familiar… and haven’t I seen this prior art previously?”

I still think they need to publicly post all patent applications for public review for at least 60-90 days before finalizing them. Give the public a chance to submit existing prior art since the patent office people obviously don’t have time to look it up themselves.

Maybe they could turn half the patent fees submitted over to the person(s) who first submit the prior art to overturn the posted patents.

dorpus says:


I went to a medical ethics training course at the university today, where they made a big deal out of Intellectual Property. In the university context, “intellectual property” mostly refers to giving credit to scientific work, i.e. putting names on papers. I talked about the bad reputation that IP has in the IT world, and the professor was stumped/fascinated.

Chris Ray (user link) says:

Someone Should Patent This!

Here’s the idea?lurk around on a few discussion boards and poach
some of the good ideas you see there. Next,
write these ideas up in a manner that is sufficiently ambiguous to qualify for
a patent. Don?t worry when the PTO
rejects your first attempt–they will help you tweak your application until it
is accepted. Instead of taking your
?invention? to market, sit on the patent until the idea has been implemented by
several companies. Once the stakes are high enough, go shopping for an attorney
who will work on contingency. Then you practice
your best ?victimized by heartless big business? look, hit the morning talk
show circuit, and tell your story of penury and disenfranchisement. Then just show up in court to collect your
check and you are set for life.

Think this is a fantasy? I learned otherwise when a client asked my company to look into the Eolas v. Microsoft
case. Using a team of slick attorneys, a high-paid expert witness, and a
broadly worded patent
claiming ownership of browser plug-ins, Eolas was able to beat more than half a
billion dollars out of Microsoft in court.?Fortunately, the Web community, led by Tim Berners-Lee, presented prior art that
undermined the patent?s novelty, forcing the Patent and Trademark Office to reexamine
the patent
. In the first step of the reexamination process, the
PTO saw
the light
and agreed with the community?s opinion that the
patent should never have been granted (or should have at least borne the label
?As seen on WWW-Talk?).

With the matter apparently headed toward a reasonable
resolution, people have stopped following the case. But this monster isn?t dead! Outside the lens of public scrutiny, Eolas
and the unwitting PTO are like Frankenstein and Igor?working surreptitiously to
revive the patent most people thought was long buried. In the process, Eolas is presenting arguments
that both fly in the face of common sense and contradict key positions they took
during trial. Worse yet, the PTO seems to be buying it (?Yeth, Doctor!?).

Just like the stalwart peasantry who are always ready with
pitchfork and firebrand, we of the Internet community must rise up and smite
this horrible creation. In all
seriousness, reading this analysis will
surely send shivers down your spine and compel you to add your voice to the
protest urging the PTO to evaluate Eolas? seduction with a critical eye. In doing so, the PTO will find that they are
being misled by arguments that suspend the
application of common sense
, disagree
with the documented history of the web
, defy
commonly accepted principles of computing
and contradict
Eolas? own trial testimony

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