Thanks, Eolas, For Making the Flaws So Patent

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There are two huge problems with the patent system – especially the US patent system. The first is patent trolls – those who patent ideas without any intention of turning them into products, but purely with an eye to extracting money from companies that do make stuff. The second concerns companies that might well intend to create a product, but which are granted patents for ideas inappropriately – because they are not new or are blindingly obvious.

This definitely falls into the second category:

Internet technology provider Eolas Technologies Inc. is announcing a Texas federal lawsuit filed today to assert the company's intellectual property rights based on two groundbreaking patents, including one that has passed two separate reexaminations at the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and resulted in a $565 million federal court judgment in 2004.

Eolas Technologies conducts leading-edge research and development to create innovative technologies in data analysis, visualization, collaboration and networking. During the past 15 years, Eolas' innovations have enabled corporations around the world to enhance their products and improve their customers' website experiences.

The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, includes claims related to two Eolas patents, U.S. Patent No. 5,838,906 ('906 Patent) and U.S. Patent No. 7,599,985 ('985 Patent).

These are the companies involved - you may have heard of one or two:

The companies named as defendants include San Jose, Calif.-based Adobe Systems Inc. (NASDAQ: ADBE) ; Seattle-based Amazon.com (NASDAQ: AMZN) ; Cupertino, Calif.-based Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: APPL) ; Newton, Mass.-based Argosy Publishing Inc.; Dallas-based Blockbuster Inc. (NYSE: BBI) ; Vernon Hills, Ill.-based CDW Corp.; New York-based Citigroup Inc. (NYSE: C) ; San Jose, Calif.-based eBay Inc. (NASDAQ: EBAY) ; Plano, Texas-based Frito-Lay Inc. [a subsidiary of Purchase, New York-based PepsiCo Inc. (NYSE: PEP) ]; Scottsdale, Ariz.-based The Go Daddy Group Inc.; Mountain View, Calif.-based Google Inc. (NASDAQ: GOOG) ; Plano, Texas-based J.C. Penney Co. Inc. (NYSE: JCP) ; New York-based JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE: JPM) ; Boulder, Colo.-based New Frontier Media Inc. (NASDAQ: NOOF) ; Delray Beach, FL-based Office Depot Inc. (NYSE: ODP) ; Plano, Texas-based Perot Systems Corp. (NYSE: PER) ; Chicago, Ill.-based Playboy Enterprises International Inc. (NYSE: PLA) ; Plano, Texas-based Rent-A-Center Inc. (NASDAQ: RCII) ; Framingham, Mass.-based Staples Inc. (NASDAQ: SPLS) ; Santa Clara, Calif.-based Sun Microsystems Inc. (NASDAQ: JAVA) ; Dallas-based Texas Instruments Inc. (NYSE: TXN) ; Sunnyvale, Calif.-based Yahoo! Inc. (NASDAQ: YHOO) ; and San Bruno, Calif.-based YouTube LLC, a subsidiary of Google Inc.

Strangely, the abstracts for those two patents are completely identical:

A system allowing a user of a browser program on a computer connected to an open distributed hypermedia system to access and execute an embedded program object. The program object is embedded into a hypermedia document much like data objects. The user may select the program object from the screen. Once selected the program object executes on the user's (client) computer or may execute on a remote server or additional remote computers in a distributed processing arrangement.

After launching the program object, the user is able to interact with the object as the invention provides for ongoing interprocess communication between the application object (program) and the browser program. One application of the embedded program object allows a user to view large and complex multi-dimensional objects from within the browser's window.

The user can manipulate a control panel to change the viewpoint used to view the image. The invention allows a program to execute on a remote server or other computers to calculate the viewing transformations and send frame data to the client computer thus providing the user of the client computer with interactive features and allowing the user to have access to greater computing power than may be available at the user's client computer.

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