Microsoft Reaches Settlement on EOLAS Patent

The retrial of the EOLAS ’906 patent lawsuit against Microsoft was to have begun on Monday in Chicago. I learned yesterday that Microsoft had reached an agreement to settle the case with EOLAS so I would not be called to testify this week. I am relieved to not have to fly to Chicago for the trial but I’m not sure what the settlement means because details have not been made public.

Today, I found this story on the lawsuit in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer (from Bloomburg News), which says the trial was put on hold while the two sides work out the final agreement.

EOLAS applied for a patent in 1994 and the PTO awarded it to him in 1998. In this controversial patent, Michael Doyle claims to have invented the mechanism by which a hypermedia browser embeds the output of another program and allows the user to control it directly. EOLAS sued Microsoft claiming that its Active X technology infringed on patent and after going to trial, Doyle was awarded a judgement of $581M.
Microsoft appealed and the courts ordered a retrial and that was to have started this week.


The purpose of the retrial was largely to re-admit evidence about the Viola browser as prior art, which the judge had not allowed to be presented fully in the first trial. The work of Pei Wei, Viola was in development at O’Reilly in 1992-1994. He wrote ViolaWWW, the first graphical web browser, which we began showing in 1992. Pei demonstrated an embedded object, a program that generated a wireframe of a jet fighter and which was very similar to the functionality described by Doyle. (Neither Pei nor I thought it was original then or now.) Lawyers seemed most interested in a demonstration of Viola that we gave to two developers at Sun Microsystems who were working on what became Java. This demonstration showed that Viola was made available to the public.

I’m not a lawyer nor a technical expert relating to these patents. I hope the settlement does not encourage Doyle to go after others and that he will be happy with whatever proceeds he has obtained. I know this from following this case: it’s a hard, long and expensive fight, no matter which side you are on.

Previous stories on this subject:

Patent Office Orders Re-exam of EOLAS patent

Butting Heads Over EOLAS Patent

  • Robert Eckstein

    I remember you talking about this while you were in Austin… now that I look more closely at Viola, it’s discouraging how obvious this is, especially considering the similarities it holds with Microsoft’s OLE technology from the early 1990s. I distinctly remember a copy of the book “Inside OLE” or “Inside OLE 2″ (the latter was (c) 1993) describing the embedding of an application object inside another (the analogy was that one was “on the moon”) when I was studying component object model theory in college.

    On a brighter note, you and Sherry convinced me to enter a project in MakerFaire Austin. Now I just have to build it.

  • s jaffe

    I can’t believe Bill Gates is stupid enough to seek a settlement in this case, since a formal settlement , once a faite accompli, constitutes very hard evidence of obstruction of justice by Bill Gates.

    The Eolas ’906 patent is known to be of questionable validity in view of the 7,016,084 patent that was filed more than one year before the Eolas patent. Law blogger Stephen Nipper and others wrote about this. Bill Gates clearly knows of it since he hired the lawyers who filed it back before Eolas did theirs, to represent Microsoft. In fact, those lawyers: Weil Gotshal & Manges, served as lead litigation counsel for Microsoft while the Eolas case was raging on! WG&M kicked out the inventor of the 7,016,084 patent in response to Bill Gates’ “request” to have WG&M represent him. Gates and WG&M could not cite the 7,016,084 patent against Eolas, even though doing so would have nullified the Eolas law suit, because Gates wanted to steal the inventions described in the 7,016,084 patent, and citing it would have prevented that.

    What was it that Gates wanted to steal that was disclosed therein? For starters: the iPhone! That patent shows what Eolas claims to have invented on a “tablet sized iPhone”, having a touch sensitive screen, Visual Voice Mail, and much of the rest.

    What subsequently happened was that Steve Jobs learned of it in 2003. The first thing Jobs did was guess what? He immediately hired Weil Gotshal & Manges to represent Apple! Now Microsoft and Apple were chasing the same products, based on the same stolen inventions from the 7,016,084 patent. And neither could implicate the other, because both were equally guilty. Of course most guilty was the law firm WG&M, but they had both Bill Gates and Steve Jobs in the palms of their hands, since both committed racketeering and of course IP theft. This is why the iPhone clones were ready literally within hours of Steve Jobs January 9th iPhone unveiling, in spite of Apple’s famous secrecy regarding new products. It is also why all of the iPhone clones “coincidentally” run Windows Mobile OS’s.

    Eolas, at the same time, knowingly filed a wrongful lawsuit against Microsoft, committing perjury and fraud in the courts in an effort to cheat money out of Microsoft using an invaild patent. Bill Gates knew this but could not do anything for the reasons mentioned.

    Now, seeing the runaway success of the iPhone, Bill Gates has decided in a simple cost benefit analysis of crime, that paying off Eolas to silence them forever, is the more profitable, as this way Microsoft can go back to stealing from the 7,016,084 patent. Gates and Jobs have agreed to both steal and let whatever happens in terms of their respective marketshare as if no patents existed on either side in the first place.

    So what you have is deliberate obstruction of justice by Bill Gates and Eolas, and racketeering by Bill Gates and Steve Jobs and WG&M.

    This is not going to work.

  • s jaffe

    I can’t believe Bill Gates is stupid enough to seek a settlement in this case, since a formal settlement , once a faite accompli, constitutes very hard evidence of obstruction of justice by Bill Gates.

    The Eolas ’906 patent is known to be of questionable validity in view of the 7,016,084 patent that was filed more than one year before the Eolas patent. Law blogger Stephen Nipper and others wrote about this. Bill Gates clearly knows of it since he hired the lawyers who filed it back before Eolas did theirs, to represent Microsoft. In fact, those lawyers: Weil Gotshal & Manges, served as lead litigation counsel for Microsoft while the Eolas case was raging on! WG&M kicked out the inventor of the 7,016,084 patent in response to Bill Gates’ “request” to have WG&M represent him. Gates and WG&M could not cite the 7,016,084 patent against Eolas, even though doing so would have nullified the Eolas law suit, because Gates wanted to steal the inventions described in the 7,016,084 patent, and citing it would have prevented that.

    What was it that Gates wanted to steal that was disclosed therein? For starters: the iPhone! That patent shows what Eolas claims to have invented on a “tablet sized iPhone”, having a touch sensitive screen, Visual Voice Mail, and much of the rest.

    What subsequently happened was that Steve Jobs learned of it in 2003. The first thing Jobs did was guess what? He immediately hired Weil Gotshal & Manges to represent Apple! Now Microsoft and Apple were chasing the same products, based on the same stolen inventions from the 7,016,084 patent. And neither could implicate the other, because both were equally guilty. Of course most guilty was the law firm WG&M, but they had both Bill Gates and Steve Jobs in the palms of their hands, since both committed racketeering and of course IP theft. This is why the iPhone clones were ready literally within hours of Steve Jobs January 9th iPhone unveiling, in spite of Apple’s famous secrecy regarding new products. It is also why all of the iPhone clones “coincidentally” run Windows Mobile OS’s.

    Eolas, at the same time, knowingly filed a wrongful lawsuit against Microsoft, committing perjury and fraud in the courts in an effort to cheat money out of Microsoft using an invaild patent. Bill Gates knew this but could not do anything for the reasons mentioned.

    Now, seeing the runaway success of the iPhone, Bill Gates has decided in a simple cost benefit analysis of crime, that paying off Eolas to silence them forever, is the more profitable, as this way Microsoft can go back to stealing from the 7,016,084 patent. Gates and Jobs have agreed to both steal and let whatever happens in terms of their respective marketshare as if no patents existed on either side in the first place.

    So what you have is deliberate obstruction of justice by Bill Gates and Eolas, and racketeering by Bill Gates and Steve Jobs and WG&M.

    This is not going to work.