EOLAS: W3C Submission Based On Prior Art Submitted by Microsoft?

An anonymous reader passed along some information regarding the Reexamination of the Eolas Patent. Apparently, the original reexamination plea by Tim Berners-Lee’s plea did not contain any new prior art. Rather, the parties involved (Microsoft, et. al.) had provided the USPTO with the same prior art weeks before Berners-Lee’s W3C submission. Download Microsoft’s Original Submission (PDF). Download W3C Subsequent Submission (PDF).

NOTE: I obtained these documents from the USPTO, so they are authentic (but truncated). However, I have not yet compared them to determine the degree of similarity between the Microsoft submission and the W3C submission. — DC

Read more about Eolas here and here.

Update: Slashdot article.

Update II: Another anonymous reader sent me this e-mail (edited) that discusses the references cited by the examiner and a possible response

Dear Mr. Crouch

I have read the Office Action issued in the Eolas reexamination proceeding. The rejection is based mainly on the following two references:

Reference 1: Ragget I and Ragget II teach embedding objects in a hypermedia documents. The objects are first processed by invoking an external application, and then displayed within the hypermedia browser. Just as in the Eolas Patent, Ragget teaches embedding foreign objects in a hypermedia document, which are processed by an external application. Also, just as in the Eolas Patent, the foreign objects are displayed within the browser window, as if being part of the hypermedia document. However unlike the Eolas Patent, in Ragget, once the objects are imported into the document, the user cannot interact with objects, or with the external application.

Reference 2:Toye teaches a browser (i. e. “notebook”) which displays hypermedia documents. The hypermedia documents in Toye can reference external foreign “interactive objects”, which are processed by external applications. A browser displays the foreign objects in “virtual windows”. If a user wishes to modify and interact with an object, he selects the displayed object, which invokes an external application for processing the foreign object. As in the Eolas Patent, Toye discloses that a user can interact with the object that is displayed in a separate window. However in contrast to the Eolas Patent, in Toye, the external object is not displayed in the same window of the browser program.

The Rejection: The examiner rejected the Eolas claims by arguing that one skilled in the art would have modified Ragget to include embedding in the browser window the interactive objects of Toye.

Possible Response: A very simple refute of the rejection would be as follows. In the Eolas Patent, the interaction with the external program is “via interprocess communications between the browser and the application”. (I.e., in Eolas, communications are routed via the browser).  Toye does not teach this type of routing. Rather, in Toye if a user wants to interact the object, he would need to click on the object, which would “restart” the external application and allow the user to modify the object. Toye provides the analogy: “The functionality is similar to opening a file using the Macintosh Finder and automatically invoking the appropriate application for processing the file”. Thus in Toye the user’s interaction with the application is only by “restarting” and launching the external application, and then interacting directly with the external application. In contrast, in the Eolas Patent, the interaction with the embedded object does not require the launching of the external application, rather it’s achieved via “interprocess communications between the browser and the application”.

ps. Thanks, for a very interesting and informative Blog.

Anonymous Emailer