W3C sides with Microsoft against Eolas patent

The World Wide Web Consortium has taken up Microsoft's cause in a patent infringement lawsuit by urging the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to invalidate the related patent "in order to prevent substantial economic and technical damage to the operation of (the) World Wide Web." In a long letter sent Tuesday by W3C Director Tim Berners-Lee to James Rogan, U.S. Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property, Berners-Lee claims that "prior art" - a legal term referring to technology in existence at the time a patent is applied for - proves U.S. Patent number 5,838,906 (the '906 patent) is invalid and that the USPTO should therefore re-examine the case for issuing the patent in the first place.

Last August, a jury in Chicago ordered Microsoft to pay $520.6 million in damages to Eolas Technologies and the University of California at San Francisco, the holders of the '906 patent, which covers the technology allowing interactive content to be embedded in a Web site. Though the Redmond, Wash., software company is appealing the ruling, it is also making changes to Internet Explorer (IE) that may affect a "large number of existing Web pages," the W3C said in a statement Wednesday that accompanied a copy of Berners-Lee's letter. "Removing the improperly disruptive effect of this invalid patent is important not only for the future of the Web, but also for the past," Berners-Lee said in the letter. "The '906 patent is a substantial setback for global interoperability and the success of the open Web," he added later in the letter.

News source: NetworkWorldFusion

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