Eolas Sues Internet Aristocracy Over Embedded Application Patents

A company which once won a $565 million patent settlement from Microsoft is now suing 23 other companies on the same patent and another one that it claims is "a continuation" of it.

Eolas is suing some of the internet's biggest names, including Google, Yahoo!, YouTube, Sun Microsystems, Apple, eBay and Amazon over its claims that those companies violate its patents.

The patents in question enable the operation of interactive technologies that are embedded in web pages, according to a statement from Eolas.

"The [5,838,906] Patent embodies technology first demonstrated publicly in 1993, enabling Web browsers for the first time to act as platforms for fully-interactive embedded applications," said Eolas. "This advanced browser technology provides rich interactive online experiences for more than a billion Web users worldwide. The Patent Office granted the '906 Patent in November 1998.

"The [7,599,985] Patent is 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," it said.

The '906 patent was the basis of Eolas's suit against Microsoft which was won initially by Eolas, appealed by Microsoft and eventually settled in 2007 in an agreement between the companies whose terms were undisclosed.

"The USPTO has affirmed the validity of the '906 Patent in three separate proceedings, including two patent reexaminations, the most recent of which concluded in February 2009," said Eolas in a statement.

Eolas now claims that 23 other companies are infringing its patents. Its suit says that it believes that the companies are making available "web pages and content to be interactively presented in browsers, including,without limitation, the web pages and content accessible via [various addresses] and maintained on servers located in and/or accessible from the United States under the control of [the companies…and] software, including, without limitation, software that allows content to be interactively presented in and/or served to browsers" without authority.

The suit names as technologies that infringe the patent Adobe's Flash and Shockwave; Apple's Quicktime and Safari; and Sun Microsystems' Java.

"What distinguishes this case from most patent suits is that so many established companies named as defendants are infringing a patent that has been ruled valid by the Patent Office on three occasions," said Eolas lead counsel Mike McKool.

The company's chairman Michael Doyle said that Eolas was the first to invent and demonstrate the technologies made possible by its patents.

"We developed these technologies over 15 years ago and demonstrated them widely, years before the marketplace had heard of interactive applications embedded in web pages tapping into powerful remote resources," he said. "Profiting from someone else's innovation without payment is fundamentally unfair. All we want is what's fair."

The '906 patent is entitled 'Distributed hypermedia method for automatically invoking external application providing interaction and display of embedded objects within a hypermedia document'. The '985 patent is entitled 'Distributed hypermedia method and system for automatically invoking external application providing interaction and display of embedded objects within a hypermedia document'.

The full list of companies sued is: Adobe; Amazo; Apple; Argosy Publishing; Blockbuster; CDW; Citigroup; eBay; Frito-Lay; Go Daddy; Google; J.C. Penney; JPMorgan Chase & Co; New Frontier Media; Office Depot; Perot Systems Corp; Playboy Enterprises; Rent-A-Center; Staples; Sun Microsystems; Texas Instruments; Yahoo!; and YouTube.