Plugins & <object> - Illegal?

August 28, 2003 1PM PST

Via Slashdot come news that Microsoft has lost a court battle against what appears to be a small, opportunistic company called .

The suit contested that Microsoft’s use of embeddable technologies (plug-ins, essentially) violated a patent granted in 1998. The W3C convened an ad hoc meeting which resulted in a new public forum on the issue, and a recommendation that the web community begin thinking of potential ways to deal with this.

The upshot of the ruling is that embeddable technologies, everything from applets to plug-ins to the <object> tag, will be under scrutiny for patent violation. As Ronaldo Ferraz put it, HTML supported the <object> tag by that point, so how come Microsoft couldn’t come up with examples of prior art?

People have been saying for years that the U.S. patent system is broken. Interesting to think that it took a lawsuit to prevent the <img> tag from being deprecated in XHTML 2.0.