Microsoft Loses $520.6 Million In Browser Lawsuit Verdict

by , 10:00 AM EDT, August 12th, 2003

Eolas Technologies has won a US$520.6 million award in a lawsuit against software giant Microsoft. The case involves patented technology developed by Eolas that allows the use of plugins and applets in Web browsers. Eolas, a company started by former University of California professor Michael Doyle, filed the lawsuit against Microsoft in 1999, according to an article at Yahoo! Finance. The company claims that Microsoft used its patented technology to make Internet Explorer a viable competitor to Netscape Navigator, and the courts agreed. Microsoft plans to appeal the decision. From Yahoo Finance:

A federal jury in Chicago awarded the University of California and a browser technology company $520.6 million after finding on Monday that their patents were infringed by Microsoft Corp.

The suit, originally brought against the world's largest software maker in 1999 by Eolas Technologies Inc., charged that Microsoft had used Eolas' patented Web browser technology which allows other mini-applications to work with Microsoft's Internet Explorer browser, according to court documents.

Eolas had argued that the technology for "plug-ins" and "applets" made it possible for Microsoft to compete against the Netscape Navigator browser.

You can read the full article at Yahoo Finance's Web site.

The Mac Observer Spin:

First up, we are fans of Microsoft's Mac Business Unit. We say that because we have somewhat disparate coverage of Microsoft. On the one hand we constantly criticize the company's business strategy, its attempts to brand Linux and the open source movement as "un-American," the fact that the company is an abusive monopolist that has been allowed to continue being an abusive monopolist, and the fact that the company claims to stand for innovation in the computing industry, when instead it has been a massive force in repressing innovation.

On the other hand, we usually tend to praise most of the products and news coming from Microsoft's Mac Business Unit (MBU). This dichotomy largely stems from the fact that the MBU makes outstanding applications (even the recently departed IE was at one time an outstanding Web browser). Today, the MBU is one of the finest Mac developers on the market, and we say that loudly and strongly.

Why all that preamble? Because we are about to call a spade a spade, and didn't want people confused when they read our positive coverage of Microsoft's price cut on Office v.X from earlier today.

So, here we go. This lawsuit, about which we admittedly knew little before the verdict was handed down, is another fine example of how Microsoft couldn't innovate its way out of a wet paper bag. The company had some one thousand people working on the development of IE 3 for Windows back in the day, and it still had to steal this technology from li'l ol' Eolas? Remember, this is the company that launched the disgusting "Freedom to Innovate" campaign in a freakish attempt to rally grass roots support against the Clinton administration's successful antitrust attack on Big Redmond.

Reading about this suit just riles us up all over again, and we ask you: What in the heck has Microsoft innovated? It bought DOS, it bought IE (and apparently stole this technology from Eolas), and even the Windows NT kernel largely came out of the portion of OS/2 code it owned when it walked away from that project. The list of products and technologies that the company did NOT innovate, and simply bought or stole, far exceeds anything the company did come up with it on its own, and this is the biggest software company in the world. Heck, the company even borrows advertising ideas.

All the while, the best products Big Redmond makes are for the Mac platform. We spell "irony" m-i-c-r-o-s-o-f-t.