Microsoft is in court today contesting a Federal Court ruling in favour of Eolas for $565 million. The court upheld a lower court ruling that Microsoft´s popular Internet Exporer browser infringed on patents held by Eolas, a company founded out of University of California.
The central issue I the case is whether or not Eolas´ patent covering “embedding small programs within browsers” – which Eolas claims covers all plugins and applets – is a valid one. Microsoft claims that there were prior cases of browsers doing just that – including an obscure browser out of Pei Wei that had just such an application. Eolas feels that Wei never pursued the idea and it is therefore invalid.
A Federal judge has already commented that the new facts may have merit. Judge Randall Rader commented that, “the district judge didn´t even let this be considered as prior art” by the jury.
While most people wouldn´t typically cheer Microsoft on, in this case I feel compelled to. If Eolas wins and does decide to go on a patent war ride nobody wins except for Eolas shareholders. On the other hand, seeing Microsoft win yet another lawsuit because of an obscure fact wouldn´t be incredibly heartening either.
Microsoft is also appealing to the US Patent Office to have the patent invalidated.