Microsoft Settles Eolas Patent Feud

Intellectual property licensing firm Eolas has announced in a letter to its share holders that it has settled a patent lawsuit with Microsoft over a method to embed interactive components into a web page, such as the way that Youtube videos can be embedded onto a blog. The suit was filed in 1999 and Microsoft has since changed the way that its Internet Explorer browser embeds Active-X elements, as users are now required to activate interactive items by clicking on them where previously such items would function automatically.

Although Eolas initially won $521 million from MS, the software maker argued that the patent should be invalidated due to prior art, a legal term indicating that somebody else invented the technology before the Eolas researchers did. Last June the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) agreed to reopen an investigation into the patent which could have potentially lead to the its invalidation. However, as of August 24th, all claims between the two companies have allegedly been settled, though details of the settlement have not yet been released. According to Todd Bishop, Microsoft spokesman Jack Evans has confirmed via phone that a settlement has been reached in the case.

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View: Eolas Shareholder Letter on Seattle PI Blog

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wonder if the settlement means they will finally get rid of that click to activate requirement... its getting annoying...

Before anyone jumps on the bandwagon of "that's the fault of the web designer", the ONLY way to get around it is to load in the object via a third-party script. Multiply that by the thousands of sites that need altering for just one browser * and most of the time it isn't considered because of the effort involved costs too much money according to beancounters (you end up with the same thing as if the user had clicked, so why bother?)

* Opera also does this "click to activate". Not because they use the same embedding system, nor because they were approached by Eolas, but "just in case", meaning that all those sites that were updated now have to alter their scripts again to cater for another browser that just didn't need this rubbish.