Microsoft to make changes to IE after patent verdict

Microsoft Corp. said Monday that it is making “minor changes” to its Internet Explorer (IE) Web browser that will affect how Web page authors embed and automatically start certain interactive programs. The move comes after a verdict came down against the software company in a patent suit filed by Eolas Technologies Inc.

The changes, which will alter how IE handles some Web pages using ActiveX Controls, will be deployed early next year, Microsoft said in a statement. Many Web pages use these components for interactive ads and other online eye-grabbers.

Net surfers may also notice a change as developers who are in the process of updating their pages may add a dialogue box before the browser loads the ActiveX Controls.

The decision comes in response to a jury verdict on Aug. 11 supporting Eolas’ claim that it is the exclusive licensee of a patent covering the mechanism IE uses to embed and invoke certain interactive programs. The patent is owned by the University of California.

The jury ordered Microsoft to pay US$520.6 million to Eolas in damages. The Redmond, Wash., software maker has vowed to appeal the ruling, and both parties are still in the process of filing post-trial motions and briefs, Microsoft said Monday.

The changes are expected to affect how IE handles some Web pages using ActiveX Controls, such as Macromedia Inc.’s Flash, Apple Computer Inc.’s QuickTime, RealNetworks Inc.’s RealOne, Adobe Systems Inc.’s Acrobat Reader, Sun Microsystems Inc.’s Java Virtual Machine and Microsoft’s Media Player, the company said.

Microsoft said that it is providing documentation on how developers can update their pages.