Eolas Seeks Injunction Against IE Shipments

Following its recent jury award, Eolas this week made legal moves against Microsoft's distribution of Internet Explorer.

Eolas Technologies Inc., fresh from a $521 million jury verdict against Microsoft Corp. in a closely watched Web browser patent infringement lawsuit, now is seeking an injunction to stop Microsoft from distributing its market-leading Internet Explorer browser.

Eolas move, filed on this week in U.S. District Court in Chicago, follows Microsofts announcement on Monday that it will ship an altered version of Internet Explorer 6 beginning in early 2004 that it says sidesteps the alleged infringement. Eolas is the sole licensee to a University of California patent on a method for embedding and invoking interactive applications, such as plug-ins and applets, in Web browsers.

Eolas attorney Martin Lueck said Microsofts refusal to agree to license the technology in the patent led to Eolas seeking an injunction. Microsoft officials pointed out, though, that it is typical in a patent lawsuit for a plaintiff to seek an injunction.

If granted, the injunction would prevent Microsoft from distributing IE with the patented technology except if the developers of the other applications being invoked or a corporate intranet site held a license to the technology, Lueck said.

"Microsoft is just refusing to pay the judgment and to take the license, so we will make it available to others," said Lueck, of Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi LLP, in Minneapolis. "If theyre not willing to pay for it, they cant use it."

He declined to comment on whether Microsofts planned modifications to IE, detailed for Web developers, were enough to overcome the alleged infringement. Both sides are waiting for a final judgment in the case, and Microsoft on Monday also launched its own set of legal motions—one seeking to set aside the jury verdict and another seeking a new trial.

Lueck said he did not expect any decision on the injunction or other motions before mid November.

Eolas so far has not reached any agreements to license its technology, though it is interested in doing so. Lueck declined to say whether the company is in any licensing discussions, but Eolas Founder Michael Doyle previously told eWeek.com that he has had such discussions. He also declined to offer specifics.

Lueck said that Eolas remains willing to settle the case for the amount of the jury verdict, $521 million, plus interest of about $111 million.

But Microsoft has made clear it intends to appeal the verdict, not settle. While it disputes that it is infringing on the patent, the Redmond, Wash., software maker moved ahead with changes to IE to remove any question of alleged infringement in the browser, spokesman Lou Gellos said.

"Thats an awful lot of money for something we dont think were infringing upon," he said.

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