Eolas loses in Web patents claim against Google and others

The defendants and counterclaimants in the case include top Internet companies like Google and Amazon.com

A jury in Texas gave the verdict that two patents of Eolas Technologies that enable Internet browsers to host embedded interactive applications were invalid, in a protracted legal battle which involved top Internet companies like Google and Amazon.com.

Eolas, a technology company in Tyler, Texas, filed a patent infringement suit in 2009, accusing 22 companies including Adobe Systems, Google, Yahoo, Apple, eBay and Amazon.com of unlicensed use of its patents in websites and other products. Some of the companies including Texas Instruments and Oracle settled and signed licensing deals with the company.

British computer scientist Tim Berners-Lee, who is credited with inventing the World Wide Web, and Pei-Yuan Wei, who developed a web browser called Viola, testified in the case.

The testimonies confirmed that Viola disclosed the claimed inventions before Sept. 7, 1993, the date Eolas claimed it had conceived the technology, and ahead of Eolas' subsequent filing for a patent, the defendants said in a filing. There is "substantial evidence that Viola was publicly known and used" before the plaintiffs' alleged conception date, it added.

The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District court for the Eastern District of Texas, included claims related to two Eolas patents, U.S. Patent numbers 5,838,906 ('906 Patent) and 7,599,985 ('985 Patent).

The '906 patent embodies technology first demonstrated publicly in 1993, enabling Web browsers for the first time to act as platforms for fully-interactive embedded applications, Eolas claimed while filing its lawsuit in 2009.

The patent granted on November 17, 1998 is described a "system allowing a user of a browser program on a computer connected to an open distributed hypermedia system to access and execute an embedded program object", and lists Eolas' founder Michael Doyle and two others as inventors, and the regents of the University of California as assignee.

The '985 patent was described by Eolas as a continuation of the '906 Patent, and allows websites to add fully-interactive embedded applications to their online offerings through the use of plug-in and AJAX (asynchronous JavaScript and XML) web development techniques. The patent was issued in October, 2009.

Berners-Lee said in a message on Twitter on Thursday: "Texas jury agreed Eolas 906 patent invalid. Good thing too !" Eolas could not be immediately reached for comment. "We are pleased that the court found the patents invalid, as it affirms our assertion that the claims are without merit," Google said in a statement.

John Ribeiro covers outsourcing and general technology breaking news from India for The IDG News Service. Follow John on Twitter at @Johnribeiro. John's e-mail address is john_ribeiro@idg.com

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