Preparing for the onslaught


So far, this week at work has been mostly about this little gem. Microsoft lost a patent lawsuit with Eolas, a company with yet another stupid technology patent for embedding a plugin in a webpage, using something simple and logical like an <embed> tag. Since Microsoft lost this lawsuit, they’re changing IE so that if you have an Applet, ActiveX object, Flash file, or anything else added to your web page using a simple tag, you now have to click on the control to “activate” it.

This causes problems for a lot of companies’ applications, including some of the Lotus products I support. Generally, I’d just chalk it up to another reason to use Firefox instead of IE, but that doesn’t fly in our corporate environment where IE is standard software and Firefox isn’t technically allowed. And while I can modify any code that I’ve written that uses this method, I can’t fix code that’s rendered by third-party software packages. We’re stuck waiting for a patch, and then waiting for someone to be able to install it, test it, and then roll it out. Depending on the vendor, the required change, and the potential impact of the changes, this process could take anywhere from a day to next century. And the people who suffer are the end users and the poor helpdesk analysts.

We need to get intellectual property laws and what can and can’t be patented straightened out in this country. How many more Amazon 1-click ordering process, NTP’s Blackberry poaching, and now this Eolas making-life-harder-for-you patents do we really need? There’s always going to be a grey area between what constitutes intellectual property and what’s just logical, but that bar is set way too low at the moment. We need to stop rewarding companies that rush to be the first to file a patent so they can sue everyone else (like Amazon) or buy patents to sue existing technology companies (like NTP). There are enough real barriers that stand in the way of progress. We don’t need to construct artificial ones.

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One response to “Preparing for the onslaught”

  1. I just encountered this on a US patent database site. Every flippin image I need to hit a popup to activate ActiveX grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr

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