How Much Will It

By Matthew Hicks  |  Posted 2003-09-29 Print this article Print

Cost?"> What would you say to Web developers [or those few competing browser makers out there] who are concerned theyll have to purchase some sort of an expensive license to be able to do this? Doyle: I think the key word there is "expensive." … We have from the beginning had a general policy of providing non-commercial users royalty-free licenses. We expect to be paid for the commercial use of our technologies.
We released our browser back in 1995 to the world free for non-commercial use, so that should be an indicator to people that the open-source community shouldnt have anything to fear from us. The extent that those products are used commercially by others or resold commercially, sure we expect to be talking to people who are making money through the use of that technology.
On the other hand, were talking about very fair and reasonable amounts. Our objective is to increase competitiveness in the marketplace, not to decrease it. [With] the browser you had released, the actual embedding technology in this patent, that was just one element of it, I would guess? Doyle: Yes … that browser had a lot of cool things to it. What was that browser called? Doyle: WebRouser, sort of a play on words. The idea was—wake up the Web. Before this lawsuit, you had been looking at entering the browser market. Even back then, did you have difficulties because of Microsofts dominance? Doyle: We were focusing on trying to get the patent through the patent office, and by the time we had accomplished that, we looked around and saw that Microsoft had occupied the marketplace. ... If you look at the trial testimony, you will see that experts in the trial testified that Microsoft used our technology as the main tool to beat Netscape and basically kill the threat that they saw Netscape posed to the Windows operating system. They also testified that the threat Microsoft saw in Netscape was its ability through the use of our technology to provide an application platform through the browser, through plug-ins and applets. But had you worked with Netscape before that, or was this independent? Doyle: We were focused on getting the patent through the patent office at that point in time. … We had demonstrated our technology widely in 93 and 94, and all the players saw it then. And they knew at that point that a patent would be sought on it? Doyle: … In August of 95, we announced to the world that Eolas had just acquired a license to the patent from the University [of California]. So from that point on, everybody knew that a patent was out there pending that related to this technology. They had the opportunity even then to talk to us, and they chose not to. So when you hear people today about us springing this kind of thing on everybody, that just isnt true. Was there anything I didnt cover that you wanted to make clear? As you said with W3C and HTML specifically, you dont expect to be invited and you havent been. Doyle: There isnt a need for that activity to be happening. What they ought to be doing is saying to Microsoft, "Why arent you talking to them about taking this license?" … Theyre asking the industry, for example, to do billions upon billions of dollars of re-engineering. Just think of all the Fortune 1000 information systems built entirely upon ActiveX technology and Web pages. The companies that have sunk that money into developing those in-house systems are now being asked to re-engineer all that, and why? Because Microsoft doesnt want to pay an amount thats equivalent to what were talking about in terms of past damages. The industry seems to be playing right into their hands in this.

Matthew Hicks As an online reporter for, Matt Hicks covers the fast-changing developments in Internet technologies. His coverage includes the growing field of Web conferencing software and services. With eight years as a business and technology journalist, Matt has gained insight into the market strategies of IT vendors as well as the needs of enterprise IT managers. He joined Ziff Davis in 1999 as a staff writer for the former Strategies section of eWEEK, where he wrote in-depth features about corporate strategies for e-business and enterprise software. In 2002, he moved to the News department at the magazine as a senior writer specializing in coverage of database software and enterprise networking. Later that year Matt started a yearlong fellowship in Washington, DC, after being awarded an American Political Science Association Congressional Fellowship for Journalist. As a fellow, he spent nine months working on policy issues, including technology policy, in for a Member of the U.S. House of Representatives. He rejoined Ziff Davis in August 2003 as a reporter dedicated to online coverage for Along with Web conferencing, he follows search engines, Web browsers, speech technology and the Internet domain-naming system.

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