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Patent holder that won against Microsoft now targets Apple

Apple and 22 other companies are the target of a new patent infringement suit over the use of browser-embedded interactive Web content.

Previous patent suits on behalf of Eolas have gone favorably for the company. In 2004, it was granted $565 million in litigation against Microsoft over one of the patents. In addition, the validity of the patent in question was reaffirmed in three separate proceedings with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

The latest suit alleges that Apple and other companies are in violation of U.S. Patent Nos. 5,838,906 and 7,599,985, which involve embedded Web applications. It was filed Wednesday in a U.S. District Court in the Eastern District of Texas.

The suit notes that Apple's official Web site includes interactive content, and that applications like QuickTime and Safari, for both Windows and Mac, enable the viewing of such content. It also alleges that Apple's hardware that runs the previously mentioned software is in violation of the patents.

"Intellectual property is the lifeblood of the U.S. economy," said Dr. Michael D. Doyle, chairman of Eolas. "The primary reason for this has been the success of the U.S. patent system in allowing the innovative company in a field to develop and market its new inventions without having competitors unfairly profit from the innovator's hard work. We developed these technologies over 15 years ago and demonstrated them widely, years before the marketplace had heard of interactive applications embedded in Web pages tapping into powerful remote resources. Profiting from someone else's innovation without payment is fundamentally unfair. All we want is what's fair."

The company said its patents relate to fully-interactive browser embedded applications. The patent ending in 906 was granted in 1998, and the subsequent patent was issued this month. It covers embedded applications through the use of browser plug-ins and AJAX.

The long list of defendants, in its entirety, includes: Adobe, Amazon, Apple, Argosy Publishing, Blockbuster, CDW Corporation, Citigroup, Ebay, Frito-Lay, GoDaddy, Google, J.C. Penney, JP Morgan Chase & Co., New Frontier Media, Office Depot, Perot Systems Corp., Playboy, Rent-A-Center, Staples, Sun Microsystems, Texas Instruments, Yahoo and YouTube.