Will Lotus Notes save Microsoft $.5B?

Microsoft is hardly a beloved name in the computer industry, but when software patents are in question, everybody rallies to the support of the defendant. The latest example of this is a blog entry from Ray Ozzie (formerly of Lotus and currently of Groove Networks).

Microsoft in August fell prey to a lawsuit by Eolas Technologies for $520.6M over plug-in technology. They defended themselves using their own research, but in the end the court decided to impose a judgment of over half-a-billion dollars in patent infringement damages.

Industry press is concerned that this will create problems not only with Microsoft, but with every other browser manufacturer and will eventually result in either loss of functionality or increased costs for the end user.

Enter Ray Ozzie. Ray realized that technologies developed by his company (Iris Associates) and later sold by Lotus as Lotus Notes were most likely prior art for the case in question and decided to not only assert this but to provide a very concise mechanism for anyone to recreate a scenario that fits almost exactly the claims in the patent by Eolas.

All of the technologies in the Lotus demonstration were available by the time the patent was filed (in release form, not a beta or pre-release) and the experiment was carried out using off-the-shelf products.

An interesting turn, perhaps.