Patent Office to Reconsider Eolas Claims

A notation on the U.S. Patent Office Web site indicates that the Eolas patent on Web browsers is under reconsideration.

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The Web browser patent behind a $521 million verdict against Microsoft Corp. appears to be headed toward a reexamination.

The United States Patent and Trademark Office on Oct. 30 ordered a reexamination patent No. 5,838,906, which is a basis of Eolas Technologies Inc.s patent infringement lawsuit against Microsoft, according to a Weblog column published late on Tuesday by OReilly Network Publisher Dale Dougherty.

Eolas holds a license to the patent from the University of California. The two won a jury verdict in August against Microsoft that sent shockwaves through the Web community.

/zimages/5/28571.gifClick here for more information on Eolass patent judgment against Microsoft.

The World Wide Web Consortium in late October asked the patent office to reexamine the patent, claiming that the patent is invalid because "prior art" (a legal term in patent law referring to whether an invention existed prior to the filing of a patent) was not considered at the time the patent was granted in 1998 or during the trial.

Officials at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and the W3C could not be reached for comment late on Tuesday. However, the patent offices online patent applications information database also shows that a decision to grant a reexamination was recorded on Oct. 30.

The summer verdict also has led the W3C to form an HTML Patent Advisory Group to consider whether the patent would require changes to be made to HTML. Microsoft itself also has announced changes to its Internet Explorer browser to circumvent the patent.

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