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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  • identicon
    Oliver Wendell Jones, 8 Oct 2004 @ 12:45pm

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    dorpus, 8 Oct 2004 @ 5:24pm

    Funny

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Chris Ray, 31 Jan 2005 @ 12:22pm

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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