Eola says it won't license to Microsoftof bad patents. The concept here is that imbedding another program in a brower is the patentable idea, which is utterly ridiculous to any programmer.
Nonetheless, Eola won a $520 million dollar settlement, which is actually quite a bit more than that with fines and interest and all that. That's not what is interesting though.
What's interesting is that Eola says that Microsoft won't be able to license back this technology for love or money. Robert Cringely wrote about this last November, but it was all "what if" then. Well, "what if" has become "what now", and unless Microsoft can pull a rabbit out their hat and beat this, their IE browser is going to be a rather useless application.
That, of course, isn't good for Microsoft, but wait, there's more: Microsoft will have to modify their browser, and I would expect that they'd have make same modifications come down to people doing Windows Updates. That's going to mean that folks will have yet another reason to ignore security updates - they won't want to break their working IE. No doubt an underground cottage industry would spring up to "fix" that little problem, but sooner or later IE would slide into oblivion because you can't ignore updates forever and mucking with them doesn't leave you feeling warm and comfy..
This is one of those times where I am truly conflicted. As much as Microsoft deserves this sort of comeuppance, this is a bad, bad patent and ought to have been thrown out. Unfortunately, neither the patent office or your average judge and jury understands programming enough to see why that is so.
So, painful as it is to say it, I'm on Microsoft's side on this one. Oh... that hurt!
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