Plugins illegal?

Read on Slashdot, comes news that Microsoft has lost a court battle against what appears to be a small, opportunistic company called Eolas.

The suit contested that Microsoft's use of embedded technologies (plug-ins, essentially) violated a patent granted Eolas in 1998. The W3C convened an ad hoc meeting which resulted in a new public forum on the issue, and a recommendation that the web community begin thinking of potential ways to deal with this.

The upshot of the ruling is that embeddable technologies, everything from applets to plug-ins to the object- tag, will be under scrutiny for patent violation. As Ronaldo Ferraz put it, HTML supported the object- tag by that point, so how come Microsoft couldn't come up with examples of prior art?

People have been saying for years that the U.S. patent system is broken. Interesting to think that it took a lawsuit to prevent the img- tag from being deprecated in XHTML 2.0.

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