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December 2, 2005

Microsoft changes Internet Explorer to avoid patent liability

Posted by David Hunter at 6:39 PM ET.

Ina Fried at CNET:

Microsoft is changing the way its Web browser handles certain controls in an effort to shield itself from liability in an ongoing patent spat with a start-up backed by the University of California.

The software giant is notifying Web developers and other partners on Friday that it is changing the way Internet Explorer handles certain Web programs, known as ActiveX controls and Java applets.

With the change, Web developers will need to slightly modify their pages or consumers will have to make an extra click to get to some content, such as for a Macromedia Flash-based advertisement.

“We think that the user experience impact is relatively modest,” said Michael Wallent, a general manager in Microsoft’s Windows-client unit.

Microsoft will incorporate the new version of Internet Explorer into all new copies of Windows and also into the next version of the browser, IE 7, which will be available for Windows XP, Windows Server 2003 and as part of Windows Vista. Existing users may also get the new code as part of future security updates, Wallent said.

This pertains to the the Eolas lawsuit which is further described in the article and has been mentioned here previously.

Update (12/3): Ryan Naraine has more at eWeek including a link to this MSDN description of the changes.

Update (12/5): Tom Krazit at InfoWorld:

Starting in January, Microsoft will distribute new code as part of the regular updates and bug fixes familiar to IE users that will change the way IE works with sites using ActiveX controls, said Jack Evans, a Microsoft spokesman.

Filed under IE7, Internet Explorer, Legal, Patents

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2 Responses to “Microsoft changes Internet Explorer to avoid patent liability”

  1. Microsoft News Tracker » Microsoft voluntary IE patch sidesteps Eolas patent Says:

    [...] As foretold in December, Microsoft has released a “voluntary patch” for Internet explorer to avoid liability in a patent claim by Eolas. Joris Evers at CNET: Microsoft on Tuesday made broadly available an Internet Explorer update related to a high-profile patent spat with a start-up (Eolas – ed.) backed by the University of California. [...]

  2. Microsoft settles Eolas patent suit -- Microsoft News Tracker Says:

    [...] The Eolas patent litigation started in 1999 and was quite an epic with a jury in 2003  awarding Eolas over $500 million (which to that point was the largest patent judgment ever against Microsoft) and caused Microsoft to change Internet Explorer in order to avoid infringing (and licensing) the Eolas patent. However, Microsoft’s legal team fought back in the late innings and gained a reversal on appeal as well as the replacement of the original presiding judge for the subsequent retrial. [...]

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