The Web Is Saved: East Texas Jury Says Eolas Patents Are Invalid

from the that-was-fast! dept

Okay, that happened much faster than I expected. Just a few hours ago, we wrote about Tim Berners-Lee telling an East Texas jury just how insane patent troll Eolas’ patents were, along with their claims that all sorts of core web technologies were covered by their patents. We thought it might take some time before anything really happened in that case, but the jury took just a short while before completely invalidating Eolas’ patents. Damn! Apparently the jury recognized that when the inventor of the web talks about how obvious a technology was at the time, he probably knows what he’s talking about.

I wonder just how silly the long list of companies who “settled” with Eolas before the trial started feel right now.

Of course, all of that settlement money means that Eolas still has a big bank account. That means it’ll appeal this ruling, and the case may still go on for a few years. But it’s going to have to clear a big hurdle, and in the meantime it won’t be able to sue anyone else using these patents. Score one for obviousness and a jury that recognized a patent troll trying to put up an innovation toll booth to try to demand loads of cash it didn’t deserve.

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Companies: eolas, google, yahoo

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Comments on “The Web Is Saved: East Texas Jury Says Eolas Patents Are Invalid”

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Anonymous Coward says:

“I wonder just how silly the long list of companies who “settled” with Eolas before the trial started feel right now”

Depends on how much they paid and how it was structured. It’s possible they may have gotten the benefit of this invalidation without having to pay for it. Even if not, the millions of $ spent getting this result might be less than what they paid in settlement.

ChimpBarak McOsamaBurton says:

Sue Them To Death!

Of course, all of that settlement money means that Eolas still has a big bank account. That means it’ll appeal this ruling, and the case may still go on for a few years. But it’s going to have to clear a big hurdle, and in the meantime it won’t be able to sue anyone else using these patents.

Well, what all those companies who settled need to do now is start suing Ebola back! (yeah, name misspelled on purpose).

If they have been temporarily hamstrung, the time is ripe to keep them busy with counter suits now that we know their winnings were bogus.

Come on out of the woodwork you silly dolts! Get your money back!


Bill Silverstein (profile) says:

Sue Them To Death!

If there is a settlement, they can’t sue back!

A settlement agreement is a settlement agreement. Unless, there is fraud in the inducement of the agreement, then it is over.

Typically in a settlement agreement, there are recitations that both side believe they are correct, but they are settling to avoid additional costs, AND that they waive all claims, known and unknown against each other.

6 says:

“I wonder just how silly the long list of companies who “settled” with Eolas before the trial started feel right now.

Probably not that silly. There is a huge risk associated with going to trial. Indeed, there is still an appeal they could do. It’s a big ol’ time wasting bunch o crp. Buying out of that time waste is many times not a bad decision.

Susan Connor (profile) says:

A troll asking for a toll.

even if asking for 1 c every 100,000,000,000 c’s could be a lot of added expense. Retrospective thinking but who invented the wheel . Before or after the tree grew another year, Then who gets the proceeds for cutting the tree in such a way that a wheel lead to the soon to be outdated micro chip? Far fetch I hope but show the point of ideas ownership. Takes one to think on a project. Many others to activate the process. then to get that idea to where it is today. … it take many parallel miricles.

TtfnJohn (profile) says:

Unlike other...

Eolas aren’t rookies in East Texas. They’ve been in those courts many times before.

THIS time a jury there came to the right conclusion. THIS time they tossed the patent troll out on its ear and watched them bounce.

THIS time justice was served. Now for a massive Bronx cheer aimed at the University of California for being part of this. And a big smack up side their head too. 😉

vancedecker (profile) says:

Much like pissing in the wind...

…this decision will have just as much of an effect.

Today’s most successful businesses are all, in one form or another, patent trolls.

I knew it was ‘all over’ when back in the 90’s Amazon won a patent for ‘one click checkout’

How can a system of justice possibly render competent decisions when they are being presided over by rotting corpses?

nonanymous says:


Why the “nice surprise”? This is pretty much how the system should work. Claims from one side, rebutted by the other side’s expert witness, and boom, ruling.

I guess this puts an end to the concept that bad patents cannot be overturned. More Techdirt nonsense shot down in flames.

This is a surprise because it is NOT how the system works, especially in this area. Nothing was shot down, everything is the same as it was, thanks for trolling.

DB (profile) says:

Verdict Form

1. Did Defendants prove by clear and convincing evidence that any of the following asserted claims of the ‘985 Patent and ‘906 Patent are invalid?
Answer “Yes” or “No” for each listed claim.
Patent ‘985
Claim 1 Yes
Claim 3 Yes
Claim 10 Yes
Claim 16 Yes
Claim 18 Yes
Claim 20 Yes
Claim 22 Yes
Claim 36 Yes
Claim 38 Yes
Claim 40 Yes
Claim 42 Yes
Patent ‘906
Claim 1 Yes
Claim 6 Yes

staff says:

another biased article

Masnick and his monkeys have an unreported conflict of interest-

They sell blog filler and “insights” to major corporations including MS, HP, IBM etc. who just happen to be some of the world?s most frequent patent suit defendants. Obviously, he has failed to report his conflicts as any reputable reporter would. But then Masnick and his monkeys are not reporters. They are patent system saboteurs receiving funding from huge corporate infringers. They cannot be trusted and have no credibility. All they know about patents is they don?t have any.

?Patent troll?

Call it what you will…patent hoarder, patent troll, non-practicing entity, shell company, etc. It all means one thing: ?we?re using your invention and we?re not going to pay or stop?. This is just dissembling by large infringers to kill any inventor support system. It is purely about legalizing theft.

Prior to eBay v Mercexchange, small entities had a viable chance at commercializing their inventions. If the defendant was found guilty, an injunction was most always issued. Then the inventor small entity could enjoy the exclusive use of his invention in commercializing it. Unfortunately, injunctions are often no longer available to small entity inventors because of the Supreme Court decision so we have no fair chance to compete with much larger entities who are now free to use our inventions. Essentially, large infringers now have your gun and all the bullets. Worse yet, inability to commercialize means those same small entities will not be hiring new employees to roll out their products and services. And now some of those same parties who killed injunctions for small entities and thus blocked their chance at commercializing now complain that small entity inventors are not commercializing. They created the problem and now they want to blame small entities for it. What dissembling! If you don?t like this state of affairs (your unemployment is running out), tell your Congress member. Then maybe we can get some sense back in the patent system with injunctions fully enforceable on all infringers by all inventors, large and small.

Those wishing to help fight big business giveaways should contact us as below and join the fight as we are building a network of inventors and other stakeholders to lobby Congress to restore property rights for all patent owners -large and small.

For the truth about trolls, please see

Jeffrey Nonken (profile) says:

A few years ago I used to work for an LED lighting company.

There’s a communications protocol called DMX that’s commonly used for controlling theater lighting, though of course anything commonly used for one thing is often used for related things as well.

Now, LEDs aren’t like incandescent bulbs. Incandescents light by heating a wire until it glows, just short of melting. I don’t know the physics of LEDs but they turn on and off pretty much instantaneously. However, unlike incandescents, they do not respond linearly to voltage changes (or current changes). IOW they don’t dim very well.

But they turn on and off really, really quickly. So you “dim” an LED by turning it on and off very quickly, and the longer you leave it on compared to how long you leave it off, the brighter it gets. That’s called “duty cycle”. It’s very linear. The most common method used to dim LEDs is called Pulse Width Modulation, or PWM. Because it’s simple: you vary the duty cycle of a repeating, fixed-period pulse. All you need is a counter and a comparator.

There’s apparently a lighting company — I forget who — who does, or at least at the time did, have a patent on using DMX with PWM to control LED lighting.

Now I don’t know about you, but as a developer who was part of the industry, it’s pretty freaking obvious to me that if you want to use theater lighting equipment to control LED lighting, you’d combine DMX with PWM. HOW THE F**K ELSE WOULD YOU DO IT?!?! But they have this patent and use it to beat up other lighting companies.

Fortunately for us, we had prior art. At least until I left, said competitor never brought us to court, and we never pursued having the patent invalidated. I guess our boss figured it was better to let them do all the work, and we were protected by the fact that suing us would be shooting themselves in the foot (and they knew it).

Meantime, several other companies have found ways around the patent. Cypress (who makes microcontrollers) has some sort of random-based method of controlling the duty cycle, and I happen to know that the 100th anniversary Times Square Ball uses a method called Bit Angle Modulation. (I don’t know exactly what method the current one uses.)

So all these companies are trying to dance around this stupid invalid patent instead of innovating because… ponies? And please don’t try to say that getting around the patent is innovation in and of itself. Broken Window fallacy.

hopponit (profile) says:

patent trolls

I’m reminded of the Seldon patents in this case. If you don’t remember it it involved the automobile and Henry Ford. Seldon shook-down the auto manufacturers. Ford fought him and won. Seems till ford said no Seldon had never built even one car. When he did to prove in court that his car worked, it didn’t. Oops. Maybe some of the same arguments should be brought up.

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