October 29, 2003

The W3C Supports MS in the Eolas Suit [8:43 am]

Hmmm — missed this news yesterday - Web Group Backs Microsoft in Patent Suit [pdf]

A leading Internet standards-setting organization took the unusual step yesterday of urging the director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office to invalidate a software patent that the group says threatens the development of the World Wide Web.

[...] The Web group contends that the patent based on work done by Michael Doyle, founder of Eolas Technologies in Chicago, while he was an adjunct professor at the University of California at San Francisco, was improperly granted. In a filing with the patent office, the Web consortium asserts that the ideas in the Eolas patent had previously been published as prior art, a legal term. That prior art was not considered when the patent was granted, or in the Microsoft trial, and thus the patent claims should be invalidated, the consortium contends.

In a long letter yesterday, Tim Berners-Lee, the consortium director, who created the basic software standards for the Web, said the patent office should begin a review of the patent “to prevent substantial economic and technical damage to the operation of the World Wide Web.”

In his letter to James E. Rogan, director of the patent office, Mr. Berners-Lee repeatedly emphasized the wider public interest in a review of the patent. If the claims in the patent are upheld and enforced, Mr. Berners-Lee warned, “the cycle of innovation on the Web would be substantially retarded.” Later, he wrote that the patent, if unchallenged, represented “a substantial setback for global interoperability and the success of the open Web.”

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