RealTime IT News

Microsoft To Appeal Latest Browser Ruling

Microsoft said it would appeal a federal court ruling that upheld a prior, $521 million patent infringement judgment against the software giant over technology it uses in the popular Internet Explorer (IE) browser.

Judge James Zagel's ruling in a Chicago federal court Wednesday upheld an August jury decision that found Microsoft guilty of infringing the patent held by Eolas Technologies that covers the use of text, graphics and sounds in multimedia applications.

The judge also gave Eolas victory in a separate request to permanently enjoin Microsoft from distribution of the browser. But that ruling was stayed pending an expected appeal from Microsoft.

Microsoft spokesman Jim Desler told internetnews.com the ruling simply formalized last August's jury ruling, adding that a formal appeal would be filed within 30 days.

"We feel very good about our prospects on appeal. We remain steadfast in our belief that the Eolas patent is not valid. While the judge did not grant all our post trial motions, the court did accept some of our arguments and decided to stay the injunction pending our appeal," Desler said.

The legal proceedings are running alongside a decision by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) to reexamine the controversial patent, which could lead to changes in the way IE browser displays embedded content like ActiveX on a Web page.

Changes brought about by the patent enforcement would likely bring a wide variety of common Web applications to their knees. Online advertisers, marketers, and Web developers have, for example, grown increasingly dependent on Macromedia's Flash technology, which would be virtually hobbled by the changes resulting from the patent enforcement.

Microsoft has already detailed plans to tweak the workings of the browser and Web developers are busy preparing code re-writes for Web pages that carry embedded interactive content.

Martin Lueck, an attorney representing the company in the case, told internetnews.com that the practical effect of the ruling is that it now puts the case on track to be appealed.

"We would prefer they get a license" from Eolas, he said, although the company is prepared for a lengthy appeal process.

Leuck also asserted that the ongoing review of the patent would not impact the appellate phase of the case, which is expected to take about a year to be resolved.