Browser patent with width effect

The one-man company Eolas wants to fight with her approach to the Internet Explorer Microsoft’s monopoly, but struggle to the giggles of the entire World Wide Web

First, it seemed like one "normal" David-against-Goliath story, when Chicagoer Klitsche Eolas broke a patent dispute with the software giant Microsoft from the fence. That the RedMonders with their browser plug-ins for Internet Explorer should have violated a protected technology seemed to be the camp of the Microsoft opponents only to come. Dearness may also happen when the conspiracious jury of an American district court of Bill Gates and his crew in August to pay $ 521 million damages damages. But the case raises basic questions about trivial patents and the attackability of the web with legal means.

Microsoft’s Internet Explorer, with which a good 90 percent of German surfers on the web are on the web, made less due to user-friendly innovations in recent years as rather through new security swallowing. The connection of the browser with Microsoft’s flagship Windows comes a "International security risk" The same, Jungst even judged experts on behalf of the American Computer and Communications Industry Association.

That the browser whose development Microsoft for alternative operating systems such as Apple’s Mac OS has already been set to the collar, therefore, could first appear as appropriate. The "Ie" Take advantage – as well as Windows – not out of love for the through-the-level object, but rather, because it "Everyone" to do. Or because Apple’s Safari still offers no convincing cookie management, Netscape is dead anyway and Opera is too exterior and even cost money. And at the standard updates, betas and "Release candidates" of "Foundation project" Mozilla barely looks like someone: The developers of the free software are currently almost surprised, so that in the produced variety of variety of browsers with or without mail clients, the overview of FLOTS is. So you stay with the old-minded, that anyway rumpling on the most sold computers.

But that "Surfer experience" With the Internet Explorer soon could prove much more annoying than today. Microsoft’s programming artists have come up with a detour to avoid the costly licensing of the plug-in technology. So far, the little helpers always provide good services to the user when it comes to the retrieval (inter-) active content such as ActiveX, sound, video or flash files. But Michael Doyle, a mutual cell biologist from Chicago, who also operates the company Eolas, wakes up a US patent under the number 5,838,906, which in his view and also after the judgment of the Chicago Jurors, Just Plug-Ins and Browser Applets and Especially Microsoft’s integration of ActiveX covers the Explorer.

Half billion "Ransom"

The Doyle Awarded half billion does not want to pay Microsoft. The Group, who is now also a wide software patent after the other, has filed a call against the verdict. On the other hand, he has been concerning the treatment of plug-ins by IE a little. On the one hand, on the one hand, he can go out of the path of the patent infringement and, on the other hand, the user does not bump all too rough castles. Whenever a plug-in is started, which accesses external content, a dialog box should build on the screen on the screen. The user must then decide whether and how the requested content should be loaded.

That could theoretically be reasonable to the surf, as long as that "Get off" – as provided by Microsoft so far – only refers to ActiveX elements. But the patent that has not yet been applied for at the European Patent Office is clearly knitted. It’s about any "hypermedia" Documents that are started with the help of a browser application in a network between client and server. However, the project of redmonders became clearly problematic, but if the user had to pay all the imaginable applets and flash figs separately for well. The visit of a single high-custodite website was then preceded by a whole click-off. Especially since millions of homepages had to be rewritten to really avoid the patent. This fears at least the standardization body for the multimedia part of the Internet, the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C).

Doyle self-logically nothing from the intermediate level, which Microsoft wants to preview the start of an ActiveX component. He strives for interim borrowing, which the IE should first disappear from the market. While, until Microsoft licensed the patented technique of Eolas. On the judges and their helpers there is a lot of work in the next few months. They have to clear whether Microsoft’s bypass strategy is successful. On the other hand, in the appeal procedure, you have to take the question of whether the WebPatent considered a well-founded legal check.

An expert dispute has already broken out. Thus, among other things, the software veteran Ray Ozzie as well as the University of California in Berkeley Kunstler Pei-Yuan Wei claim the browser developments claimed by Eolas already made before Doyle Salonfah. The Patent-Buster Greg Aharonian, on the other hand, ames that the company’s claim is entitled – not only because he was officially proliferated them before the local monopoly of the state monopoly and found it well.

The good person from Chicago

Doyle has also invented the plug-in and applet procedures used by other web navigators such as Netscape, Mozilla or Opera, according to 1993 together with colleagues at the University of California in San Francisco. During the University of U.S. Patent, Eolas wakes up the licensing of 1998. The company has grounded Doyle to make this task, whereupon her fully written name ("Embedded Objects Linked Across Systems"). In the meantime, however, it also applied for a very broad patent to public-key interconnection at the European Patent Office.

The vortexed by Doyle is water on the muels of the critics of web and software patents, which are currently also a hot iron in Europe. Have been due to the frequently trivials but the Internet and the software development danger. The danger is roughly that non-individual technologies, but overall ideas are stated state. Instead of demanding innovation, patents in this area were preventing innovation.

Doyle itself, however, is quite a good man who "only" Want to settle with Microsoft. Without a software patent, small players had no chance in the competition against supermessed companies with the 95 percent market domination Microsoft, he said young in an interview. He wanted to avoid the impact on the entire web. Especially the Mozilla Foundation and the Open Source scene have nothing to bleed. Licenses of non-commercial users were generally paid free of charge.

However, a potential irony of the whole story was also allowed to keep the researcher a little towards: Microsoft remains as a way out of the lock even the possibility to integrate further multimedia functions directly into the browser. Whole without applets and plug-ins. The ability of the redmonders on the base level of the web was probably further cemented.

From Stefan Krempl, the Telepolis book appears in the fall "War and Internet. Away from the propaganda?" in the publisher Heinz Heise ()

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