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Jury invalidates key Eolas web patents in trial involving Amazon and Google

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Eolas Technologies loses a web patents case involving Amazon, Google, and others.

Judge (shutterstock)
Judge (shutterstock)

Amazon and Google are among a number of companies that won a crucial web patent verdict against Eolas Technologies this week. Eolas originally filed a lawsuit in 2009 against 22 firms, some of which settled before a trial, on the basis that the companies had allegedly violated two patents owned by Eolas. Patents 5,838,906 and 7,599,985 were invalidated this week by a federal jury in Texas that called upon "father of the web" Tim Berners-Lee to testify in the case.

The heart of the issue centers on the two patents related to "interactive" web features such as streaming video or rotating pictures through the use of AJAX, JavaScript, and other web technologies. Eolas consistently claims to have created the first web browser that supported plugins, and it forced Microsoft to modify its Internet Explorer browser during an eight-year long patent battle as a result. Microsoft eventually settled with Eolas in 2007, but the company, described as "patent trolls," pushed ahead with the fresh lawsuits against 22 companies. One patent (5,838,906) was originally rejected in 2004 after a re-examination, but the United States Patent and Trademark Office upheld the validity of it in 2005, following an appeal by Eolas.

Eolas' loss this week could be appealed by the company, but for now it will not be able to file new lawsuits against other firms on the same basis. Yahoo, one of the companies involved in the trial, said it was pleased with the outcome, and Google said the verdict "affirms our assertion that the claims are without merit." Tim Berners-Lee reacted to the news on Twitter, saying it was a "good thing" that patent 5,838,906 was deemed invalid.