Cookies on Pinsent Masons website

This website uses cookies to allow us to see how the site is used. The cookies cannot identify you. If you continue to use this site we will assume that you are happy with this

If you want to use the sites without cookies or would like to know more, you can do that here.

Microsoft wins battle for new judge in browser patent suit

Microsoft has succeeded in its application to have a new judge hear the latest twist in its patent case against Eolas. The case, which is worth over $500 million to Eolas, will be reassigned on the orders of the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC).02 Aug 2006

Eolas is a company founded by Dr Michael David Doyle of the University of California San Francisco (UCSF) which came up with a method of allowing browsers to use other small pieces of software. Eolas says that Microsoft turned down the opportunity to licence its technology and when similar technology turned up in Microsoft's browser, Eolas sued.

Microsoft did violate an Eolas patent with its market leading internet browser Internet Explorer, according to an August 2003 judgment in an Illinois court. The court awarded $521m in damages to Eolas.

The patent involved is number 5,838,906, 'Distributed hypermedia method for automatically invoking external application providing interaction and display of embedded objects within a hypermedia document,' filed 1994 and granted in November 1998.

The patent relates to Doyle's claim to have invented the first browser that integrated plug-ins, small pieces of software which enhance the browser's capabilities. Demonstrations were said to have been taking place since 1993.

Microsoft was offered a licence for the technology in 1994 and declined, leading to the 1999 suit over capabilities in Internet Explorer. Microsoft appealed the judgment but The Supreme Court in the US refused to hear the appeal, meaning that the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals judgment still held, though only in relation to foreign sales of Microsoft's Explorer-containing operating system, Windows. The original District Court judgment had ruled that any payments should take account of foreign sales of Explorer.

Microsoft was previously denied the chance to have a new judge hear its case, but the CAFC has now overturned that ruling. The court said that Microsoft was only following what it viewed as correct procedure, and was not seeking to address a perceived bias.

"Microsoft did not assert any bias or misconduct on the part of the original judge," said the ruling, "but instead urged that reassignment should occur automatically [in such a case]".

Join My Out-Law

  • See only the content that matters to you
  • Tailor Out-Law to your exact needs
  • Save the most useful content for later reading
  • Tailor our weekly eNewsletter to your interests

Join My Out-Law

Already signed up to My Out-Law? Sign in