Eolas Seeks to Stop Microsoft IE Distribution

Eolas Technologies, the company which has successfully sued Microsoft for using its patented technology in the Internet
Explorer browser, is now asking the U.S. District Court in Chicago to
permanently enjoin Microsoft from distribution of the browser.


If granted, the injunction would stop Microsoft from shipping any version
of Internet Explorer or the Windows operating system which includes the
patented technology, explained Richard Martinez of Robins, Kaplan, Miller &
Ciresi, the firm representing Eolas. Martinez said the injunction would not
prevent Microsoft from shipping versions of those products which had been
stripped of the patented technology.

The motion, filed on Monday, came a day before Microsoft released details
of its plan to put
out a new version of Internet Explorer (IE) early next year with “modest
changes” to the way the browser handles embedded content on Web pages,
thereby side-stepping the Eolas patent, which covers technologies for the
creation of a browser system that allowed for the embedding of small
interactive programs like plug-ins, applets, scriptlets or ActiveX
controls.

Eolas is the licensee and sublicensor of the patent (US Patent 5,838,906),
issued Nov. 17, 1998, to the University of California. In August, the court
awarded Eolas and the University of California $521 million in the
company’s patent infringement suit.

Eolas is still examining Microsoft’s plans for the new IE, but has not made
a determination if it still infringes on its patent, Martinez said.

“They obviously have not kept us involved in either their discussions to
change the product or the actual work leading up to it,” Martinez told
internetnews.com. “We’re obviously taking a look at it. We’re still
reviewing it.”

In the meantime, the company wants Microsoft to stop distributing the
current browser. Martinez said that the current court schedule means the
judge will likely not rule on the motion until November or December at the
earliest.

For its part, Microsoft has said that it plans to appeal the District
Court’s ruling in the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, and has pointed to the
fact that the lower court rejected claims of willful infringement.


“We believe the evidence will ultimately show that there was no
infringement of any kind, and that the accused feature in our browser
technology was developed by our own engineers based on pre-existing
Microsoft technology,” the company said in a statement in August, when the
Chicago court announced its award.

The case is being closely watched by members of the technology industry,
and the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), the standards body which oversees
the standards and specifications which cover browsers and World Wide Web
technologies, has claimed that Eolas’ patent has implications for the World
Wide Web in general, including its specifications.


That body has also said that changes to the IE browser may affect a large
number of existing Web pages. Microsoft has already discussed its proposed
changes with the W3C.

Microsoft could not immediately be reached for comment

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