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Patent case may bring Internet Explorer changes

Microsoft is preparing changes to its Internet Explorer browser because of a patent verdict against it. Experts said the changes could affect a large number of existing web pages.

"In response to the ruling, we are evaluating our options and may take precautionary steps in terms of any changes we may need to make to IE," Microsoft spokesman Jim Desler said. He declined to detail what sort of changes Microsoft has in mind.

Last month a Chicago jury ordered Microsoft to pay $520.6m in damages to Eolas Technologies and the University of California after finding that Microsoft improperly included technology in Internet Explorer that allows interactive content to be embedded in a website. [See "Microsoft ordered to pay $521M in patent dispute," Aug. 11.]

Desler added that Microsoft did not expect changes to Internet Explorer to have a significant or widespread impact. The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), however, believed that changes in Microsoft's browser could affect a large number of websites, said W3C chief operating officer Steven Bratt.

Microsoft is involving the technology industry and relevant standards bodies, such as the W3C, in its investigation into the changes it may have to make to IE. "We want to inform them about our thinking on this matter and get their feedback and input," Desler said.

The W3C held a meeting last month to discuss the fallout of the patent case. Attendees agreed that a response to the case should minimise the effects of changes to web software, websites and the user experience.

According to the W3C, Microsoft will make changes to Internet Explorer "very soon" , but Microsoft's Desler said it was "premature to get into any details in terms of what Microsoft may or may not do".

Microsoft plans to appeal against the jury verdict once the court has finished dealing with post-trial motions and enters a final judgment in the case, Desler said. This is expected in the coming months.

Joris Evers writes for IDG News Service


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