Friday, August 31, 2007

Microsoft settles with Eolas

AP reported on Aug. 30: Microsoft Corp. said Thursday it settled a patent dispute with Eolas Technologies Inc. over Web browser patents.

InformationWeek said: Microsoft has settled its eight year patent dispute with University of California technology spin-off Eolas Technologies, according to a letter to Eolas shareholders from the company's chief operating officer.
"We are pleased to inform you that Eolas Technologies Inc. and Microsoft Corporation have settled all claims between them," the letter states. The letter, written by Eolas COO Mark Swords, is dated Aug. 27.

The letter says shareholders of the closely held company will receive a per-share dividend of between $60 and $72 as a result of the deal. It also notes that the terms of the settlement are confidential. "We hope that you will understand we simply cannot now or in the future provide any confidential details regarding the terms of the settlement," Swords' letter states.

Eolas first sued Microsoft in 1999 in federal court in Illinois, claiming that the software maker's methods for accessing interactive content in Web pages viewed through Internet Explorer violated Eolas patents. Eolas was awarded $520.6 million in damages in 2003. Soon afterwards, Microsoft announced architectural changes to Explorer in an effort to work around the patents.

Even in his latest comment on IPBiz, Mike at TechDirt STILL won't talk about the failure of W3C's efforts in the re-exam of the Eolas/UC patent. Gee, Mike, the train pulled out of the station.

In making the following remarks, Mike made no comment on my article on IPFrontline (cited in the IPBiz post) about the reasons WHY post-grant opposition is a bad idea:

You leave out the fact that the second window of review is only going to come up when there's a controversy over the patent -- meaning a much higher likelihood of folks being present who can present prior art or evidence of obviousness. That doesn't happen during the first round.

The reason for having that second round is simply because it later becomes clear that someone is abusing a questionable patent -- and it should be reasonable to then present evidence that the patent should never had been granted. It's unlikely that anyone will present that evidence when no one knows about the patent or how it will be used.

Of re-examinations:

[LBE said] "In fact, re-examinations are rather easy to request."

[Mike said] Nice spin, but I'm afraid you're wrong again. "Request" and actually go through are two totally different things. I didn't say that the arcane nature was in requesting, but the full process of review.

IPBiz says of Mike's silliness -->In the failed attempt on the Eolas/UC patent, W3C didn't even make a request. They got the director to order a re-exam. W3C should not even have been involved after that. But they filed a claim chart, prepared by Pennie & Edmonds, the arguments of which went no where.

In the more common form of re-exam, ex parte, the entity requesting the re-exam cites the art to the USPTO, and that's about it. The entity requesting re-exam does NOT get to argue with the USPTO about the decision by the USPTO. There's nothing arcane. There's nothing much to do at all. Either the prior art invalidates, or it doesn't.

On "incentives to approve" at the USPTO:

[LBE]--Mike's initial statement also included the urban legend: patent examiners are given incentives to approve, rather than reject.

[Mike]I'd love to see some evidence on this. Btw, I never said they were given *explicit* incentives to approve, but the implicit benefits are in approving rather than rejecting.

IPBiz to Mike--> check out the dvd from 2005, cited in the past post.

Deming was clear that when one has a problem with production, one fixes the production step. One does not add an inspection step. Mike's approach is so "UN-QUALITY" that Deming is spinning in his grave. The irony of using UNQUALITY to fix a "quality problem" is sublime.

***Naomi Grossman wrote:

Hey, want to win a lawsuit even if you lose? Or better yet, want to get a verdict against you overturned even when it isn't? Just drag the original lawsuit out, oh, say about four years and when you lose in court file an appeal and let that drag on another four years.

It worked like a charm for Microsoft.


But Ars Technica notes, "Given the way things have gone for Microsoft recently, the company probably paid out far less than the $520 million that Eolas won during the first court case in 2003, though we may never know."

Oh, and don't worry. Microsoft still believes conceptually in intellectual property. As CNet writes: "Although Microsoft has been a target in several intellectual property cases, the company affirmed its support for the concept in the computing industry."

It quotes a statement from Microsoft: "Microsoft values intellectual property and believes that the proper protection and licensing of IP enables companies and individuals to obtain a return on investment, sustain business and encourages future innovations and investment in the IT industry."

Uh, huh. Sure. Anyone want to buy a slingshot?


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