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3/29/2006
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Microsoft Readies IE Change In Response To Patent Lawsuit

The patented technology allows a browser to call programs over the Internet to display streaming audio and video, advanced graphics, and other content within a single Web page.

Microsoft Corp. on Wednesday said it would modify Internet Explorer next month in order to abide by a ruling in a patent-infringement lawsuit.

The Redmond, Wash., company said the change, which addresses the suit filed by the University of California and Eolas Technologies Inc., would be included in its IE security update package scheduled for release April 11.

The patented technology enables a browser to call programs over the Internet to display streaming audio and video, advanced graphics and other content within a single Web page. The technology has become a standard within the language used to write Web pages, called Hypertext Markup Language.

The modification planned by Microsoft would change the way the browser handles ActiveX controls related to rich content. As a result, a person would have to manually activate a stream either by clicking on it or using the "tab" and "enter" keys on a keyboard, the company said in its security blog.

The ActiveX change would be included in Microsoft's package of security updates released on the second Tuesday of each month. The April update also will include a fix for a zero-day flaw in IE that enables a Web site to automatically load spyware in visitors' computers. The exploit has spawned at least a couple of hundred malicious Web sites, experts say.

A federal court in Chicago in August 2003 ordered Microsoft to pay more than $520 million in damages for violating the UC-Eolas patent. Eolas founder Michael Doyle was granted the patent while he was an adjunct professor at the University of California, San Francisco, but the UC owns the technology.

Microsoft is appealing the decision, claiming the technology was actually invented by Pei-yuan Wei and his colleagues at O'Reilly and Associates. The technology has been used in IE for years.

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