Patent troll that claimed ownership over the Web loses its case

Eolas, a notorious patent troll who partnered with the University of California in a shakedown scheme that claimed royalties for all "interactive web sites" that featured rotating images, streaming video, and other practices that had been widely established before their patent was filed, has lost a key lawsuit. A jury in Tyler, Texas (the sleepy town where the shell-companies used by patent trolls have their nominal offices) found that the Eolas patent was invalid, after hearing testimony from Web inventor Tim Berners-Lee and other luminaries of the open web.

If the jury had upheld the patents, there would have been a potentially brutal damages phase in which Google, YouTube, Yahoo, Amazon, Adobe, JC Penney, CDW Corp. and Staples would have been sued for infringement and been asked for more than $600 million in damages, with the majority of that coming from Google and Yahoo.

The Eolas patents were denounced for years before this week’s landmark trial, but managed to survive repeated re-exams at the United States Patent and Trade Office.

However, Thursday’s verdict is likely a setback Eolas can’t overcome. It may well be appealed, but that will be a long process, and in the meantime Eolas won’t be able to go after new targets.

Texas Jury Strikes Down Patent Troll’s Claim to Own the Interactive Web


  1. Kudos to, among others, the now-former UC Berkeley XCF group for having remembered what they were doing contemporaneously and having testified effectively as to obviousness and state of the art at the time.

  2. I saw an insightful comment earlier today — perhaps at Slashdot or Techdirt, I’m not entirely sure.  The gist was this: perhaps it would be better if Eolas WON this suit, because it would drive home, in an emphatic way, that the US patent system is horribly, irrevocably broken, and thus might finally trigger the kind of public backlash required to effect some serious changes.  (For my part: I support the annihilation of all software patents.   But that’s only a start: “business method” patents should go next, and then we can get to work on the myriad other categories that need to be totally destroyed in order to return at least a modicum of sanity to the process.)

  3. What is the problem with our patent system?

    “The Eolas patents were denounced for years before this week’s landmark trial, but managed to survive repeated re-exams at the United States Patent and Trade Office.”

    I rest my case…

  4.  Woo Hoo! Tyler, Texas makes Boing Boing! Wait, this isn’t good. Ahem. We are also the Rose Capital of the world.

  5. The US patent office has no clue about software and should not be allowed to issue software patents. If I snap the Lego blocks together in a new way then no one else can ever snap them together that way again without paying me. Absurd! Given the same tool set and the same problem, independent developers often devise similar solutions. Therefore their common idea is not novel and should not be patentable – obvious solutions are not patentable! Yet the patent office routinely issues these software patents for such obvious and mundane things as “one click checkout”. How novel, no one would ever think of that, would they? One click checkout wow – revolutionary. Took a genius to figure that one out. With this ridiculous patent system in place it’s impossible to develop any kind of software without infringing on dozens of software patents. The situation is unworkable – all software patents should be declared null and void.

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