Are rollover images really covered under patent law?
“Dear website owner, congratulations on your excellent site, which includes features covered by our registered patent, #5,251,294. As the description indicates, many of the components on your pages, particularly your menus, rollover images, and shortcuts, are detailed in our claim. We would be delighted to lease these to you at a reasonable royalty rate of $80,000. Please call our offices at your convenience to arrange a payment schedule.”
The firm’s site claims that it has made licensing deals with Apple, Google, Nokia, Sears, Sony and Orbitz.
Even if their patent does cover rollover images which we use for menus and other means, can they really enforce it?
I was just checking out Opera 11’s page… and suddenly the ‘click to activate’ flash discussion in this thread got me laughing…
An option has now been added to have plug-ins such as Flash content load only when clicked on. This is especially helpful for speeding up browsing on computers that have difficulty handling lots of plug-in content. Simply check the “Enable plug-ins only on demand” box in Preferences → Advanced.
I know we’re off topic but you’ll have to post some links to credible information that substantiates your position on Eolas…
I was quite aware during the course of the patent/lawsuit and recall when my browser was updated with the click patch. I was also surprised that my other browsers weren’t affected which lead me to information about the patent, particularly that the patent did (explicitly) not affect open source browsers that are available for free.
This article from 2006 quotes the patent holder discussing the reason why other browsers aren’t affected.
I don’t want to be rude so I’m just going to suggest you go back and do some more research, awasson. I can find plenty of examples with browsers other than Ie being affected, so I’m sure you will to if you take a look.
Yeah, I do remember it quite well… There was no scramble from the others because the Eolas patent only affects proprietary browsers. IE was clearly in their sights but the others being open source (even Safari) were safe from legal action.
BTW: The click to activate only affected IE browsers at the time of the infringement and at some point later IE was repatched to remove the click-to-activate feature. I recall something about Opera as well but I never ran into the click-to problem with it. Firefox and Safari never integrated the click-to-activate “feature”. Perhaps the websites you’ve visited have some other reason for requiring a click to activate.
IMO the Eolas patent is an example of something that shouldn’t have been patented and I’m also surprised that MS didn’t mount a better defense with prior art. If they had put a call out for prior art the way that has been done via Groklaw on several occasions, they may have found better examples. For instance, Ray Ozzie claims Lotus Notes (which he created) used the same methods as described in the patent prior to the granting of the Eolas patent. That should have rendered that patent invalid. Unfortunately, the prior art they brought to the table’s date couldn’t be established and the judge prevented it from being used in the trial. In the end they had to pay more than half a billion dollars.
Microsoft was the first (and possibly only) browser maker to pay the licensing fee. If you were remembering it right, you’d remember that all browser makers, not just Microsoft, had to scramble to release “click to activate” updates for their browsers when the patent was deemed valid.
There are still sites even today, that are affected by that click to activate stuff. At least once a week I come across something I have to click twice and I don’t even use Internet Explorer for sites other than my own.
An obvious course of action for anyone threatened with a breach of a patent is to ask to have an independent third party do a comparison between their implementation and the prototype that forms the basis for the patent in order to determine whether they are similar enough in the way they work for there to be an issue. Of course most patent holders refuse such a request because they know that any such comparison will show that they are different enough for the patent to not apply.
Well the problem is any one can FILE a CLAIM for a patent. When people start to confuse a DESIRE with an IDEA, at the very least it can catastrophically clog the system.
This a technical forum 99% of us can tell the difference. Even in an artistic forum most people will be able to understand the TRUE concept of intellectual property. But both disciplines combine still only make up a sliver of the general pop. A population that has started confusing a desire or need with a solution. which is what I was trying to say earlier.
The people in my example would claim they invented the car, even though they knew nothing of physics, chemistry or mechanics… because they felt there should be carriages with out horses… way before Gottlieb Daimler and Wilhelm Maybach. (who technically only invented an IMPROVED coach utilizing gasoline).
ON a funny note, to support my argument. Look at the ad campaign for Windows 7. “Windows 7 was my idea” Yes, it’s just a marketing campaign, but marketing campaigns often reflect a cultural wave.
So, what are the chances of this having an impact on the Internet similar to the patent that forced everyone but Microsoft (since they purchased a license) to force users to click Flash objects before they could interact with them ?
I don’t understand why they’re going after individual websites. I’d be going after browser makers if I were them.
I watched that whole thing unfold (via GrokLaw) from the beginning up until some time in 2008 when it became apparent that SCO was legally neutered and financial ruined. I wonder how their investors feel.
It was a pretty disgusting display of greed and power mongering. They really wanted to anyone ransom for using an operating system that they claimed used their copyrighted code but it was based on a hunch and they wouldn’t provide any proof of infringement. Disgusting yet some of the victims actually paid.
I sure would have like to have been there when the courts declared that SCO didn’t own the actual rights to the Unix codebase and that Novell still held them. That would have been a great day
Look at the wording of this one – it’s sufficiently vague it could mean anything, so you can’t check prior art on it until they use the patent against someone – therein defining it…
One ‘cute’ detail of patents, if you keep it completely vague you can interpret it however you like and many companies will give you $$$ to go away instead. For many smaller companies they don’t have the deep pockets to drag it through the courts. It’s the cornerstone of how patent trolls operate… especially companies who never actually developed anything and just buy up the rights to things TO sue companies for revenue. See “The SCO Group” post-Caldera… sad fate for a company that started out inheriting a legitimate anti-trust suit from… Novell (who inherited it from Digital).
Part of why I always liked Novell – they’ve been around the bend a dozen times with patent trolls and will drag it the whole way through the legal system to squash them.
I think this is in the wrong forum Paul, but that is besides the point. I get why we have patents on drugs, and stuff like that. When it comes to stuff like this, it gets gray, and down right stupid. This goes aloing with the Microsoft owning a patent on white space…