updated 11:40 pm EST, Thu February 9, 2012
Eolas sees web patent lawsuit claim tossed
Eolas' attempt to patent the "interactive web" may have been dealt a permanent blow after a jury in the normally patent lawsuit-friendly town of Tyler, Texas ruled that the patent was invalid. The decision negated both any attempts at claiming damages and also negated three future trials. The rejection came in part after testimony from the spiritual creator of the web, Tim Berners-Lee, as well as individual creators whose work predated that of Eolas owner Michael Doyle.
In the immediate case, Adobe, Amazon, CDW, Google, its YouTube sibling, JC Penney, Staples, and Yahoo could have faced damages over $600 million, including possible royalties.
The invalidation can be appealed, but if upheld could see a wide swath of companies hope to undo settlements they'd made at points when the patent was upheld and success looked bleak. These included major companies such as Apple, Blockbuster, eBay, Office Depot, Sun (now Oracle), and Texas Instruments, along with other banks, media outlets, and other large companies.
Companies such as Eolas often try for far-reaching patent lawsuits of the sort, especially in Tyler, Marshall, and other Texan cities whose judges tend to favor the patent holder in a lawsuit. Even if a patent is overbroad and the company has no meaningful products of its own, patent-only firms like Eolas often count on targets being unwilling to go through the effort of a trial to defend themselves and instead opting for quick, if expensive, settlements. [via Wired]