EOLAS: Ok, maybe I was premature & Interactive Planet

Ok, I’m sorry, maybe I was a little premature in my downplaying of EOLAS’s patent case against Microsoft, but if you search aggregators like I do 3 times a day, and all you see is that topic, you start to think the only thing happening in people’s world is that one thing, and your curious why when you don’t see what’s so important about it. One thing I can’t relate to is still frustrating.

Regardless, talked to the head hizz-noncho over at IPI tonight and we discussed it in length over dinner at <a href=”http://www.namrestaurant.com/”>this phat Vietnamese restaruant, Nam</a>. A gent that used to work for him as a designer opened it. He has a sushi place too that got rave reviews, and I can see why. He designed everything, from the interior to the outfits the waiters/waitresses wear. Very cool place.

Anyway, yeah, regardless of what you’ve read, who’s professional opinion & examples downplay this case’s weight, it turns out making patents and collecting on them via licensing fee’s or the court battles is a profitable business. Now, you may say, “Duh”, but I didn’t know this. I usually seperated licensing fee’s and court battles over patents as 2 different things. I didn’t even know how one obtained the right to collect licensing fee’s in the first place. In the US, it takes about 50-90k and 4 years to patent something + a bunch of weird rules in talking about the idea and showing how long the idea was in play by you. In UK it is a lot harder. The laws involved + appeals & lawyer involvement is just jacked and drawn out.

Bare bones: You come up with a good idea, and when people use that good idea in the future, you either collect licensing fee’s/royalties, or sue their ass.

To me, this is actually a brialliant plan, and foster’s innovation. Personally, I can definately account for some negatives: GIF for example. What a crock of shit that stifled the internet’s growth. Still, encouraging people to come up with good ideas and spend money to protect them is great. Granted, it’s a gamble. You have to have some futurist in you, and there is no guarentee that any of your patents will actually be used by the public.

How does this apply to Microsoft? In the words I heard, your lucky a lot of times, and others you just not. This is one time Microsoft isn’t and they’ll probably have to pay. However, what’s the end result? Nothing that big, it seems. True web developers would know better than me, but in reality, the end user will never see the effects of it. Developers will, but not those people that use our products. The average person doesn’t download the 20meg patch on their modem’s (broadband bs regression, eh?), and window’s update is hardly used by the average user either (really). Therefore, the majority of people will still have windows 2000 with IE 5.5 or XP with 6+, ALL with plugin technology. The only time this would change is if they bought XP or upgraded to Longhorn in 2 years. Do you know of many users who own 2k and are rearing to upgrade to XP after they just bought it? Last I heard, people are leveraging what they bought (cept us geeks of course). So, even though Microsoft will have to pay and have no plugin change, or pay but change things which doesn’t seem likely, either way, little affect would happen to the end user in which case a solution would HAVE to be in Longhorn anyway. That still doesn’t leave us Developer’s out of the picture, nor the mini browsers.

I heard an example of one company that was sneaky. They would wait 3 years until the company using a technology they patented was well established, and hit them with an astronomical bill and warnings until they paid, all the while documenting rebuttals so if it comes to court, they win easily (just like Microsoft’s case). That’s why small guys either ignore it and/or get off easy in the beggining. It’s like planting a garden; you wait for it to come to fruit before you reap the rewards. Just take’s a good idea and patience.


On the flipside, met some cool peeps. It was nice to see a true design studio still existing. I guess in my defeatus attitude toward the continued removal of myself from any resemblence of a design community, I had assumed the traditional design firm had gone WAY underground, or in house and out of sight. The whole place had a ton of Mac’s, always a good sign, and had your traditional Atlanta warehouse studio feel.

That’s not what got me, though. They said that <a href=”http://www.gmunk.com/”>Bradley from Gmunk</a> had actually worked there a week, as well as one fo the video dudes from heavy.com. I freaked. Not only that, but the little blond girl in the Fin video Gmunk did was the head honcho’s neice. Craziness! But it didn’t stop there. One of the dude’s who put on the B4D (forget the exact name) conference in Atlanta while I was in Sydney in February, big design convention done by <a href=”http://www.designforfreedom.com/”>peeps like this</a>, was who I went out to dinner with! Insanity.

Anyway, they said they all get together to get pizza in Buckhead (or was it Midtown?) and hang out and chat. Have to go to one of those…

…off to read about management.

7 Replies to “EOLAS: Ok, maybe I was premature & Interactive Planet”

  1. yeah lawsuits are great. i can’t wait until this all goes down and i get to be part of the class action suit against MS, MM, Real, Adobe, Apple and the W3C for knowingly using technology that was not theirs to use (or make standard). ;-)

    seriously though, there’s another lawsuit thats raging at the moment that is somewhat related to the Eolas case.

    ironically, i read about it on the MM site: http://webforums.macromedia.com/flash/messageview.cfm?catid=194&threadid=689501

    Acacia has a patent on streaming technology. _very_ basically, any media (audio/video) that streams over a network from a server to a client is subject to their patent and you have to pay them royalties. the kicker on this one is that they are going after _web site owners/developers_ not the companies that make the software to do what they “invented”…

    well, no plug-ins and no streaming media. woohoo! i loved text-based BBS’s in the early 80’s. just gotta pull out my old amber screen monitor and i’ll be all ready for the “new” internet.


  2. I think the only thing is changing is lots of money into different hands, but man, I could go for text only computer’s; ASCII art could make a comeback.

  3. :: reads the thread ::

    Dude, that’s crazy…! LOL, wtf. I wonder if Flashcom is a target too? I doubt I’m successful enough in my play toys to really warrant a suit (er, to really catch their attention). Still, that’s pretty funny how broad that patent is. I wonder whatever happened to that guy who patented “The Millineum” or however you spell it.

  4. Have you ever considered that Microsoft may have acutally wanted to lose the case??

    They would love to see the web die and all the competing technologies that take focus away form their services. Surely they don’t want to lose half a billion over it, but sending the web back to the stone age is a victory for MS.

    the eolas case doesn’t just apply to ie and windows either. Mozilla, Macromeida, Adobe, among others are at all risk of being sued astronomical amounts of money.

    Personally, i feel that 99% of software patents are absolultely useless, and just cheap stabs at building a legal arsenal to use against others.

    I remember when inventions were actually that; one-click, plugins, give me a fucking break. That code isn’t worth half the paper it was printed on.

  5. <i>>> ASCII art could make a comeback</i>

    woah. imagine if MM re-tooled Flash into the most amazing ASCII/ANSI art animation program ever made, and simply output DHTML instead of SWF! _that_ would be awesome! ;-)

    actually, both cases apply directly to my day-job, as i’m building our new browser-based version of software entirely in Flash and IE and it includes a huge amount of streaming audio and video. i’ll be scared to see if any of this ends up actually adversely effecting us… at least i know we’ll get our high-powered attorneys involved and _that_ should be fun to watch.


  6. True, Sparks, I guess it’s very important to make the distinction between invention and patent; innovation and assimilation.

    I just figured they’d leave Mozilla/Firebird/all the rest alone just because they are little, and really don’t have billions of dollars to get, but you never know. I dropped an MPEG into Director last night, and laughed when it said OLE in the cast… Director’s has so many things like object plugin’s in it as well as streaming media + it itself streams… craziness.

Comments are closed.