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Eolas patent upheld: lunatics run asylum

The loony United States Patent and Trademark Office have decided that Eolas own the patent on the idea of a web browser automatically calling a helper application.

Therefore, any browser that doesn’t prompt for a user to confirm before allowing FlashPlayer to show Flash, a movie player to show a movie clip or passing control to the PDF plugin contravenes Eolas’ patent.

So, assuming that Microsoft don’t want to pay a license in perpetuity for including Eolas’ “idea” in a product they distribute for free, our choices are

(I detail all of these in an article about Eolas I wrote two years ago for DMXzone.)

Stuart Langridge writes, “I say support Eolas, and let’s keep the web HTML”. I disagree. I love html, but the Web is not just for us Standards-luvvies. For the vast majority of people, the Web is equally animation, video, sound and entertainment.

So this patent setback will make the Web even more unusable and clunky (and we’ve all been terribly excited by the promise of Ajax to declunkify the Web). And isn’t the fact that everyone may be unthinkingly clicking “yes” to dialogue boxes a fantastic bonanza to Spyware and virus writers?

The one-man Eolas company may very well damage the Web, and they have a history of dreadful business practices, like the recent attempt to cash in on the misery of those affected by Hurricaine Katrina. Nice!

PS: America, what the fuck is up with your patent system? Sort it out, or I will personally lead a British army to bring you back into the colonial fold.

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6 Responses to “ Eolas patent upheld: lunatics run asylum ”

Comment by Stuart Langridge

I don’t understand what’s “unusable and clunky” about not allowing plugins. To my mind, having to use a crappy embedded video player is a lot more “unusable” than getting a nice screenshot of the video with a “click to open in your proper video player”, which can be resized and stopped and used the way all your other videos are.

Comment by bruce

Agree with you, Stuart. But what about Flash in the page?

But it’s not about what we think; we’re comfortable with technology and controlling video players, and other such widgets. But what about the 99% who aren’t?

Comment by Shez

I have some sympathy with Stuart’s desire to see an unadulterated HTML web world and I am generally supportive of the drive for web standards. Fuck knows I’m fed up with 90% of the non-HTML crap that plagues the web. Trouble is, there’s a helluva lot of HTML crap out there too. Much of it is as much about aesthetics as it is about standards compliant HTML code. But let’s not forget that the web is as much an entertainment tool as it is an informational tool. That means that content in Flash, Quicktime, Real, Windows Media are all equally valid forms of information/entertainment and that’s the reality of it. I realise this creates a headache for standards warriors, but you guys and girls are going to have to work round these minor annoyances because the 99% want that sort of content. I think the point about embedded video players is a matter of aesthetics more than anything else. A visit to Apple’s website demonstrates good use of embedded video (Quicktime video trailers etc.) – I don’t find it clunky in the least. The Eolas patent? Well, perhaps Microsoft et al. could come to an equitable out of court settlement – Michael Doyle obviously wants his belated share of the web boom – let him have it.

Comment by zztop

Microsoft should make a pop-up to load plugins, so every time a user say wants to watch a video in a web page, he will have to click OK button. This circumvents Eolas patent. Now, the popup should have a link to get a PAID version of Explorer with no pop-up. Below the link there should be an explanation that the fee for the paid version goes to Eolas as the license fee. Then this little spider Mike Doyle from eolas will have to deal with 500,000,000 enraged internet users!

Comment by AtariRiot

fuck eolas, fuck the us patent system. how can u have a patent on an idea? the fact that there are workarounds (white papered by microsoft and adobe) show us that the only ones suffering from this decision are the ones that code the pages. of course there will be flash pages and stuff in the future, they will always exist. the fact that microsoft have javascripts (workarounds) on their own page shows how much nonsense this is. but for microsoft it turned out as good again. they can use this restriction to push up their so-called Flash killer Microsoft Interactive Designer software. so let me correct myself: fuck eolas fuck the us patent system , fuck microsoft =)

Comment by Dan

I agree, big time. Fuuuuuuuuck Eolas. Seriously, they are breaking my balls right now. I think those sons of bitches single-handedly cost the web development world millions of man-hours in the last few months. If the patent holder was here right now, I’d sock that mother fucker as hard as I could. And then I’d let him sue me.

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