The drama: A lawsuit by a patent troll who said he owned the rights to the “interactive web.” The troll says he’s owed some back rent for owning the Web we all use every day.
Dramatis persona: Tim Berners-Lee. Perhaps you’ve heard of him. He invented the World Wide Web.
Oh, to have been in Tyler. It was the stage for a showdown in one of the most bizarre patent troll cases ever, pitting (metaphorically if not in fact) expert witness Berners-Lee against some punk who wanted to make his name by taking out a very, very big gun in a shootout. The plaintiff, Eolas, claimed it owned patents that entitled it to royalties from anyone whose website used “interactive” features, like pictures that the visitor can manipulate, or streaming video. The claim, by Eolas’s owner, Chicago biologist Michael Doyle, was that his was the first computer program enabling an “interactive web.”
If Texas was still the Wild West this might have been settled at High Noon at some dusty, just O.K. Corral, with single-action Colt .45 revolvers. There was no gunplay, but for geekdom the calm morning testimony in an air-conditioned courtroom was just as exciting.
On Wednesday, Jennifer Doan, a Texarkana lawyer representing defendants Yahoo and Amazon, examined Berners-Lee for the plaintiffs, which include Google, Amazon and Yahoo. An excerpt from Wired‘s report: