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What does Eolas v. Microsoft mean to you?

It's under appeal, but a judgment against Microsoft may require radical changes in the way IE handles plug-in content. This means equally big changes could lie ahead for developers of sites that use plug-ins. How do you think this will affect your work?


The Eolas v. Microsoft case has put many of us Web developers in unfamiliar territory—rooting for Microsoft to win a legal victory. For those of you who've been stuck offline in Antarctica for the past few weeks and don't know what's going on, here's the recap: Eolas has a patent on how a browser downloads multimedia content embedded within an HTML page. It has won a judgment of over a half billion dollars against Microsoft, claiming Internet Explorer infringes on that patent.

Now if the patent sounds to you like the description of basically all plug-ins and applets, you are not alone. Although Eolas is currently focused on suing Microsoft, the company has confirmed that its interpretation of the current ruling does cover fundamental aspects of HTML such as the embed and object tags. Which is why the W3C has formed a panel to study the potential for changing HTML itself.

This patent granted to Eolas covers something so fundamental, it's hard to imagine life on the Web without it. I mean, if people didn't use embed and object, there'd be no Flash, no Java applets, nothing but plain old text. Embedding multimedia content into Web pages is part of the very fabric of the Internet.

Course of action
Yes, Microsoft says it's going to appeal the decision. But even the Redmond giant is making contingency plans to alter Internet Explorer if it loses the appeal.

So if Microsoft is making contingency plans, and the W3C is studying potential changes to HTML, what are you doing to get ready? What are your plans for working around the Eolas lawsuit to make sure you're not the next legal target? Share with your fellow builders by posting to the discussion below. We want to know what you're thinking of doing in response to the lawsuit, how painful and expensive you think this will be for you, and what you think will happen as this issue winds its way through the legal system.

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