Microsoft has settled with Eolas over a number of patents regarding browser plugins which chicago based Eolas filed patents for in 1998. A jury in Chicago then found Microsoft guilty of infringing on Eolas’ patents and was told to pay $521m US Dollars in ‘damages’. That ruling was overturned and a fresh trial ordered which was due to start very soon, but it seems Microsoft has decided to pay out:
Details of the settlement have not yet been released but Eolas Technologies’ chief operating officer, Mark Swords, told the New York Times that a certain number of Eolas’ shareholders would get US$60 to US$72 per share.
I think it is a sign of a deep crisis in the technology industry as a whole when companies have to pay out over patents over which the holder has no product. With patents there should be a use em’ or lose em’ theme. My biggest concern now is that I hope Microsoft are not trying to validate the patent by paying out and then encouraging Eolas to use it against competitors, sort of like the Apple and Creative deal comes to mind.