A Tangled Web, Indeed

A jury in Texas has decided that Dr. Michael Doyle, of Eolas Technologies, was not the first to invent the ‘interactive web’.  After more than a decade in various courts, a jury in Texas decided the famed ’906 patent to be invalid.  Eolas had sued a long list of companies including Google, Amazon, Adobe Systems, Yahoo and J.C. Penney.

If the decision had gone the other way, experts say, the internet could have been seriously damaged, maybe even derailed.

Give me a break.

The only think at stake here was money.  Lots of it.  Dr. Doyle wanted some, and the companies he took to court didn’t want to give him any.  In the end some paid, and some stuck it out until the bitter end.  That’s the free enterprise system at work.

Now there are some folks who are criticizing the companies such as Apple, Citigroup, EBay and Playboy that paid up over the years.   I think that criticism is unfair. Each of those companies made a rational business decision that was, in theory, the best business decision for them at the time.  They have had years of economic certainty and virtually no litigation and defense costs.

Mostly that’s not how it goes, though. Generally these things are settled long before we really know who is right.  It’s nice to see how the process turns if you stick with it long enough.

I admit to harboring a little hope that he had been, in some way, right.  There is nothing like seeing the big guys having to pay the little guy some money.  It’s a great story.

But the system worked, and the ’906 is invalid.  So ends the saga.  Unless, of course, Dr. Doyle appeals.


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