Eolas suit may spark HTML changes

I sure hope I never have to take out a license to use the <B> tag anytime in the future! According to this article, the W3C may be changing the OBJECT and EMBED usage.
Options the PAG could recommend include a technical workaround or new wording in HTML and related specifications warning that authors who implement the tags in question should contact the patent holders and take out a license, if necessary. (Source: C|Net)
That would be a big change. All plugins use these tags, QuickTime, Flash, Active X, etc, etc. This is all came to light because of a Eolas' $521 million patent victory over Microsoft and its Internet Explorer browser (Source: C|Net, One, Two, Three, Four) So is Eolas going to go after EVERY business who has used the OBJECT and EMBED framework in their own technology? He (Eolas is a one man operation) already has won a ruling, which we all know doesn't mean anything yet, M$ is going to appeal. Is he going to go after Apple, Macromedia, Sun, etc. as well and make them pay a licensing fee? I think this is all a bit harsh. How long have people used plugins in browsers? I seem to recal Netscape as being the pioneer of the plugin architecture to enhance the Web, but that is beside the point at this point. I am not sure if I agree with M$ or not here. There is a patent here (and how many years has it been with no word of patent infringement by Eolas?) But I get the feeling that Eolas is asking way too much for licensing, I mean, $521 million for the patent case? But, the federal court found that plug-ins and applets in Internet Explorer infringed on patents held by Eolas Technologies and the University of California. Say that again: plug-ins and applets in Internet Explorer. So why is this suit not directed toward other browser developers such as Netscape, Apple, Omni, etc, etc? This is not something M$ did, the use of plug-ins and applets in a web browser is a standard, and ALL web browsers use the standard. That is the part I am confused about. Whatever happens, small scale or large, this is going to change a lot of things for web designers and developers. I wonder how we will be embedding content such as Flash, Quicktime, and Java into web pages in the future. I will end this commentary with this from C|Net:
Microsoft also is said to have proposed other ways to launch applications in a way that could not be held to infringe on the patent, but would avoid the ungainly dialog box solution. One such option would move the data to the Web page itself, rather than pulling it from an external source. In Microsoft's view, attendees said, the patent only covers a situation in which the Web page called up data located elsewhere. The company is said to have told attendees that it believes so-called inline data falls outside the Eolas patent claims because it is described in the HTML protocol published in 1991--three years before the initial Eolas patent filing.... "This is not an issue just for IE," said Wallent. "This is a potential issue for Netscape Navigator, for Opera and for other browser vendors. This is an industry issue..." "The W3C has worked very hard to make the Web remain patent free and this might be the one thing that screws it all up. It's really very frustrating."
Like I said, I hope I do not have to pay for use of the <B> tag. Also posted on BlogCritics.

Comments (4)

If they require you to pay for <b>, just start replacing (and do a big old search/replace) them with <strong>. Does the same damn thing :-D

Your are a smart ass Jake. but a funny smart ass :-P. Good one ole' boy!

Am I mistaken, but aren't they sueing over what the tags actually do. Pull data from another source and embed it into the page? That's why Microsoft says that they could do it so the data is inline or part of the content. Therefore, you won't have to worry about tags that format data, just ones that are grabbing data from other sources(images, movies, applets, etc...)

Brian, you are correct. But I was not using the B tag as a literal example. That was a joke. The OBJECT and EMBED tags, the tags that do pull content from another source, are widely used tags. I think its a little ridiculous that Eolas wants people to pay for using them, they are part of the HTML spec. IMO Eolas is just money hungry mongers and going after M$ was the quickest way to make money. In other words I do not agree with them.

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