Patent Politics

During a recent meeting held at Macromedia's San Francisco headquarters, Silicon Valley companies asked a familiar question: What to do about Microsoft?

But the strategy event, sponsored by the World Wide Web Consortium, differed significantly from so many others, at which participants have typically gathered to oppose the software giant's power. This time, Microsoft was the guest of honor. "There's no doubt that there are some people who are happy to see Microsoft get nailed for anything," said Dale Dougherty, a vice president at computer media company O'Reilly & Associates. "But for those of us who are part of the Web, we wanted the browser to be on every desktop. And if it has to be a Microsoft browser, OK."

What a difference a patent suit makes. With one staggering loss at the hands of a federal court jury in Chicago, Microsoft has won the support--if not the sympathy--of nearly the entire software industry, from standards organizations to corporate rivals that are rushing to defend the company's Internet Explorer browser. To some competitors and partners who have long been chafed by Microsoft's dominance, the verdict in the patent infringement lawsuit by one-man software company Eolas may initially have seemed an overdue victory--and one that achieved what the U.S. Department of Justice and the courts had failed to accomplish in regulating Microsoft under federal antitrust laws.

News source: C|Net

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