Imx Fix in my experience
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October 15, 2003 3:43 AM

There is no doubt at all that the Microsoft patent on custom web pages is being discussed all over the web today. I also have no doubt that there are precious few people out there who even know about this sort of issue and that it is an issue. At stake is a patent awarded to the most aggressively carnivorous business is the world, and a VERY common procedure for delivering web content.

If you read the patent, and I did, and you are a web developer, like me, you'll probably see a lot of procedures described that seem familiar. If you didn't read the patent info yet, take a look at the abstract...

User-selected customization information for a network (e.g., HTML) document is stored at a server with reference to user identifying information that uniquely identifies the user. Whenever the user navigates back to the network address of the HTML document, the user is identified automatically and receives a customized HTML document formed in accordance with the customization information.
This basically says that Microsoft owns a patent on any functionality on a web site where a user fills in a form and then gets back a page that has information customized based on the parameters of what was submitted over the network. Have you ever written a CGI? If so, you probably set up a scenario described by this patent.

There's an ironic/annoying twist to this. The patent explicitly mentions HTML as the display encoding language, and I can't find mention of other encoding types mentioned in the patent. So, one might think that a Flash based, network enabled application is the way to avoid a patent violation, right? Sure, but if that's supposed to appear in a web browser, you have to deal with the Eolas patent. If you think you can use XSLT and CSS instead, step back a second and check out the CSS patent disclosure page at the W3C.