US Patent and Trademark Office Nixes Eolas Browser Plug-in Patent

Friday March 5th, 2004

Reuters is reporting that the US Patent and Trademark Office has invalidated a patent covering browser plug-ins. The patent, jointly held by Eolas Technologies Inc. and the University of California, has been struck down in a preliminary decision, which Eolas has sixty days to respond to. Eolas successfully sued Microsoft for infringing on the patent last year, forcing the software giant to outline drastic changes to Internet Explorer that would severely impact upon the user experience of the Web. MozillaZine reported on the lawsuit and the Mozilla Foundation's response to it last October. Thanks to Zachariah for the news.

#5 exactly

by smkatz

Saturday March 6th, 2004 10:29 AM

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Now that in Internet Explorer, plugins are ActiveX, I don't want plugins to run without my consent. Microsoft asks on every page load currently in order to make it worth your while to enable ActiveX, it asks whether the page uses ActiveX or not.

The lawsuit would have forced them to fix this. I see the pros and cons.. but I think "plugins executing automatically" sounds dangerous.

In Safari, Flash is built-in. It is another format the browser supports, and does not (to the best of my understanding) infringe on Eolas's patents.

Eolas could say --and would I think-- that plugins could not be used if they were not using the Netscape or Mozilla APIs, and give a date for the transition to occur.

ActiveX needs to die for the security of the web, although I am glad it didn't happen by Eolas's hands--history would not have looked upon them favorably.