Eolas, the grandaddy of patent trolls, has its ass handed to it by a court, finally


So, does he have to pay everything back with interest, or has he won?


Yeah, not sure this counts as getting his ass handed to him. He had a good run: 20 years of enriching himself (to an obscene degree, I imagine) through extortion and abuse of a broken system. That’s a lot better than most professional athletes, movies stars, etc. I’m sure he’ll have a good cry as he flies to his private island on his gulfstream jet.


This one falls under a different level of troll. That very early date is very important here. There was no prior art patented at the time he had this patent filed. There was prior art, but mostly that would not have been publicly available.

He may have been a troll. but I believe him to be a sincere troll. He really was the first to patent this stuff. If the current laws about first-to-file had been in effect back then, these patents would have been upheld. Others did come up with the same idea, just the same as others came up with the telephone. More to the point, others came up with other concepts and ways of accessing the same sort of behavior, so it is not like the technology issues converged on a single solution. I do not think it was a good patent, but given the level of tech development and prior art, it is completely understandable that this was awarded in the first place. This was all new to the patent office and to the people developing apps.

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It’s important to remember however that they never built anything. These guys just saw the way the wind was blowing and tried to patent everything that they thought might happen. This isn’t protecting the little guy, it’s abusing the system to siphon money off of everybody who gets into it. This sort of behavior is directly counter to the purpose of the patent system, which is to encourage innovation and openness.


Actually, they had released a Mosaic derivative browser. They did have a product. Just no one used it.

They also put this patent out for licensing, but no one took them up on it, instead they just incorporated elements from the patent in their own products. (For example, they spoke to Microsoft. Microsoft turned them down for licensing, then turned around and incorporated the tech anyway in IE).

Seriously, if you had been involved in Internet development at this time, this would have seemed a perfectly reasonable patent and course of action.

It was not obvious when they developed it which way the winds were blowing. Most people were developing independent programs for items on the web. If you wanted to play chess, for example, you opened XBoard and pointed it at the server you wanted to play on. If you wanted to play Go, you did the same with GnuGo… People were rushing to develop their applications.

A lot of the hostility now is retrospective. Seeing how things turned out, then backfilling all sorts of expectations and assumptions.

At some point we have to hold the patent office responsible for allowing people to patent things they didn’t design.

If your patent doesn’t contain sufficient information for a competent engineer to build it out, it’s not valid. The entire point of a patent is that you get a monopoly in exchange for releasing viable instructions for doing (today, not at some unspecified point in the future) something no one has ever done before.

You do not have the patent rights to anything that you are not the first person to make technically feasible, and even then you only have the rights to the specific method you used.

Anything else constitutes failure on the part of the patent office, including, very obviously, those of Eolas.


One thing I fail to understand is how the same people were able to get more than one patent on the same idea. There’s a patent issued in 2011 (based on multiple continuations of an application dating back all the way to the 1990s) on the same basic idea as the original 1990s patent; very convenient to the inventor/troll to have a new patent issued just when the original one is getting ready to expire.

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Wait, hold on, I’m confused. I’m all against patent trolling, but we are saying that one who sucked millions out of Microsoft, Amazon, and Yahoo! is the bad guy here? How far down on the suck circle of millions does this guy fall? Did anybody see Pirates of Silicon Valley?

My main point is… does this really warrant any actual chest pounding on behalf of the forgotte man. Detroit is getting effing raped right now by Jamie Demon and the Wall Street Cadets. Get some perspective people.

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