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SOA & WOA: Article

Eolas Patents Found Invalid

Eolas could appeal. It’s “evaluating its options”

After hearing testimony from World Wide Web creator Tim Berners-Lee, Netscape co-founder Eroc Bina, HTML embedded tag inventor David Raggetr and prior art inventor Pei-Yuan Wei, who wrote the Viola browser back in 1991, two years before Eolas, and demo'd it to Sun in '93, a Texas federal jury Thursday - in a district notorious for looking kindly on patent holders - found the patents held by Eolas Technologies, which once nailed Microsoft for a $565 million infringement decision, invalid.

The patents claim that Eolas invented the idea of a web browser that supports plug-ins and AJAX development techniques.

Eolas was suing YouTube, Adobe, Amazon, JC Penney's, Staples, CDW and Yahoo before moving on to almost anybody with a web site. Oracle, eBay, Apple, Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, Playboy and TI previously settled.

Eolas could appeal. It's "evaluating its options."

The University of California co-owns the Eolas patents.

The Microsoft decision didn't survive because the judge wouldn't allow the Violas evidence. The companies settled for some secret amount reportedly in the tens of millions in 2007. Wonder if Redmond can demand its money back if the invalidity judgment survives.

Wired said Berners-Lee, who has always seen Eolas as an impediment to the web, testified that he took "stuff we knew how to do" and put "together bits that had been around for years in a particular combination to meet the needs" he had. When asked who owns the web, he replied, "We do," meaning everybody. He never patented a thing.

Pei's invention was later re-created by Java, Flash, JavaScript and HTML 5.

More Stories By Maureen O'Gara

Maureen O'Gara the most read technology reporter for the past 20 years, is the Cloud Computing and Virtualization News Desk editor of SYS-CON Media. She is the publisher of famous "Billygrams" and the editor-in-chief of "Client/Server News" for more than a decade. One of the most respected technology reporters in the business, Maureen can be reached by email at maureen(at)sys-con.com or paperboy(at)g2news.com, and by phone at 516 759-7025. Twitter: @MaureenOGara

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