Eolas Rebuts Initial Patent Finding

By Matthew Hicks  |  Posted 2004-05-11 Print this article Print

In a response to a patent office re-examination, the company reiterates its position from its high-profile case against Microsoft that its Web-browser patent was correctly issued and predates similar inventions.

Eolas Technologies Inc. on Tuesday officially rebutted a patent examiners early finding that a Web browser patent at the heart of a legal battle with Microsoft Corp. is invalid. Chicago-based Eolas holds a license to the patent from the University of California and last year won a $521 million jury verdict against Microsoft in its patent infringement case. Microsoft has since appealed the verdict. The verdict led to an outcry from the Webs major standards body, the World Wide Web Consortium, which helped convince the patent office in November to order a re-examination of the patents validity.
In an initial finding in February, a patent office examiner agreed that substantial "prior art" existed to reject the patents claims. Prior art is the legal term referring to whether an invention existed prior to the filing of a patent.
In its response, Eolas defended the patents validity and rejected the claims of prior art, said Eolas attorney Martin Lueck, of Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi LLP, in Minneapolis. "We basically reiterated the arguments we set forth in the trial," Lueck said. The patent, No. 5,838,906, was issued in 1998 and covers a method for the embedding and invoking of interactive applications, such as plug-ins and applets, in Web pages. Click here to read more about Eolas patent-infringement case against Microsoft. A patent office spokeswoman said the office had yet to receive the Eolas response, and neither Eolas nor University of California representatives would release a copy of the filing. Following an examiners initial finding in a re-examination, the patent holder gets a chance to respond. The back-and-forth can continue, depending on the examiners next findings, and the entire re-examination process takes an average of 21 months, the patent office spokeswoman said. Microsoft officials declined to comment on the filing, saying the company had yet to see it. Check out eWEEKs Developer & Web Services Center at http://developer.eweek.com for the latest news, reviews and analysis in programming environments and developer tools. Be sure to add our eWEEK.com developer and Web services news feed to your RSS newsreader or My Yahoo page:  
Matthew Hicks As an online reporter for eWEEK.com, 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 eWEEK.com. Along with Web conferencing, he follows search engines, Web browsers, speech technology and the Internet domain-naming system.

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