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Sun Settles Eolas’ Java Claims

Eolas said Monday that it had previously settled with JPMorgan Chase and New Frontier Media

Remember Eolas, the one-man company whose 1998 browser patent struck so much fear in the heart of Would Wide Web creator Tim Berners-Lee that he personally asked the US Patent and Trademark Office to invalid it as a "major impediment to the operation of the web"?

Well, Eolas rushed out Monday to say that it had settled with Sun Microsystems that morning. Naturally the terms weren't disclosed.

That leaves another 18 defendants to go.

In October of 2009 Eolas sued 23 brand name companies in the infamous plaintiff-leaning Eastern District of Texas - specifically faulting Adobe's Flash and Shockwave; Apple's QuickTime, Safari for Windows and Mac and Apple desktops and laptops; Google's Chrome for Windows and Mac; and Sun's Java and JavaFX - and that was after finally settling up with Microsoft, its test case, two years before.

God knows what it got out of Redmond. At one point an Illinois jury found that Microsoft owed Eolas more than $565 million for treading on the patent that supposedly enabled browsers for the first time to act as platforms for fully interactive embedded applications, providing the rich online experiences that upwards of a billion web users worldwide enjoy every day.

Eolas said Monday that it had previously settled with JPMorgan Chase and New Frontier Media, who were part of a contingent it sued in 2009. It said they signed license agreements.

Besides Adobe, Apple and Google, the others still to come to terms include Amazon, CDW Corporation, Citigroup, eBay, Frito-Lay, a subsidiary of PepsiCo, Go Daddy, JC Penney, Office Depot, Perot Systems, now part of Dell, Playboy Enterprises, Rent-A-Center, Staples, Texas Instruments, Yahoo and YouTube, now part of Google. Blockbuster and Argosy Publishing were originally named. Blockbuster has subsequently gone bust or close to it.

It's feared the case will serve as a way to tax other companies not named in the suit, making Berners-Lee's nightmare a reality. Smartphones and the advent of tablets should give Eolas quite greater scope.

Eolas originally asked the court for treble damages, a potentially gargantuan sum, lawyers' fees and supplemental damages for any continuing post-verdict infringement up until entry of a final judgment. It said the companies all knew about its patent and kept infringing.

Eolas now has not only its original '906 patent, which was reaffirmed in three separate proceedings, including two patent reexaminations, plus a '985 continuation of the '906 patent - issued the day it filed suit - that covers web sites adding interactive embedded applications through plug-ins and AJAX.

More Stories By Maureen O'Gara

Maureen O'Gara the most read technology reporter for the past 20 years, is the Cloud Computing and Virtualization News Desk editor of SYS-CON Media. She is the publisher of famous "Billygrams" and the editor-in-chief of "Client/Server News" for more than a decade. One of the most respected technology reporters in the business, Maureen can be reached by email at maureen(at)sys-con.com or paperboy(at)g2news.com, and by phone at 516 759-7025. Twitter: @MaureenOGara

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