Tim Berners-Lee has written to the American patent office to demand a re-examination of one of the many obnoxious Internet patents. The Eolas patent.
This particular harmful and obnoxious patent covers the simple idea of plugging other programs into a browser.
The owner of that illegally granted harmful and obnoxious patent has already pressured Microsoft into considering crippling their widely used browser software. If it is allowed to stand, it will have devastating effects on the future of the web, as well as the potential to serve as a standard reference case for people calling for complete, wholesale abolition of the patent system as such. Whoever considers defending this kind of abuse should think very carefully if they don't mind contributing to the cause of complete abolition of the system.
The disruptive effects on the whole web have called the W3C into action. The last time someone tried to fight the W3C they found themselves "washed over by a powerful river". That was the Intermind patent, see page 94 in my book "Grenzen des Patentwesens". Drummon Reed of Intermind said in a later interview, as an answer to the question "So asserting a web patent is problematic?"
"What people are finding is that trying to put up a patent in front of the rapidly flowing river of the web is like trying to dam it. But the river is so powerful that it will simply work around you, or wash over you. We were the first company that said we are not going to contribute IP royaltee-free to a W3C standard. And look what happened!"
It will be interesting to see if that power is still strong enough to defeat this obnoxious patent. I sure hope so.
Link to the W3C found at Lessig Blog.Posted by Karl-Friedrich Lenz at November 1, 2003 05:27 PM | TrackBack