Patent case may bring Internet Explorer changes

Patent case may bring Internet Explorer changes

Microsoft is preparing changes to its Internet Explorer (IE) browser because of a patent verdict against it. The changes could affect a large number of existing Web pages, experts said.

"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 had in mind.

A jury in Chicago on August 11 ordered Microsoft to pay $US520.6 million 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 Web site.

Microsoft does not expect changes to IE to have a significant or widespread impact, Desler said. The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), however, believed that changes in Microsoft's browser could affect a large number of websites, W3C Chief Operating Officer Steven Bratt said. IE is by far the world's most used Web browser.

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 earlier this 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, Web sites and the user experience. Still, changes to IE "may affect a large number of existing Web pages," according to the W3C.

It said Microsoft would "very soon" make changes to IE.

However, Desler said it was "premature to get into any details in terms of what Microsoft may or may not do."

Microsoft planned to appeal the jury verdict once the court had finished dealing with post-trial motions and entered a final judgment in the case, Desler said. This was expected in the coming months.

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