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Plug Ins Getting Unplugged From Ie

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Adrian Roselli

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User since: 14 Dec 1998

Articles written: 85

Many of you may already be aware of the Eolas Technologies lawsuit against Microsoft for patent infringement as reported on It is perhaps the only time the general web community hasn't been rooting for the little guy to win out over Microsoft. For those who don't know, the short short on it is that Eolas has claimed that the concept of plug-ins, a patent owned by the University of California, and licensed exclusively to Eolas, has been infringed by the very ability of Internet Explorer to play plug-ins inline with browser content.

Ultimately, this means that running Flash movies, or other plug-ins, alongside web page content (Flash art on HTML pages, for example) is a violation and that developers need to find another way to do it — whether by invoking dialogs when a plug-in is about to launch or by opening alternative content in new application windows. The implications of this are big. So much so, that the W3C has weighed in and formed an advisory panel (the HTML Patent Advisory Group) and released a FAQ on how the patent may impact the web.

On Tuesday, Microsoft said that it will make adjustments to Internet Explorer by early 2004 to prevent it from infringing on the patent. For now, the changes will consist of the browser firing a dialog box before allowing the embedded plug-in to run. Microsoft, Apple, Macromedia, and Real Networks have all provided information to developers to allow them to avoid infringing on the Eolas patent. Sadly, most of these fixes require extensive use of client-side script and invalid HTML tags in order to work. Zeldman goes into detail on the validation and accessibility issues on his site, and has a number of links to examples and some thoughts on how this will pan out over the next few months.

Some links to the software makers on the hook:

A founder of, Adrian Roselli (aardvark) is the Senior Usability Engineer at Algonquin Studios, located in Buffalo, New York.

Adrian has years of experience in graphic design, web design and multimedia design, as well as extensive experience in internet commerce and interface design and usability. He has been developing for the World Wide Web since its inception, and working the design field since 1993. Adrian is a founding member, board member, and writer to In addition, Adrian sits on the Digital Media Advisory Committee for a local SUNY college and a local private college, as well as the board for a local charter school.

You can see his brand-spanking-new blog at as well as his new web site to promote his writing and speaking at

Adrian authored the usability case study for in Usability: The Site Speaks for Itself, published by glasshaus. He has written three chapters for the book Professional Web Graphics for Non Designers, also published by glasshaus. Adrian also managed to get a couple chapters written (and published) for The Web Professional's Handbook before glasshaus went under. They were really quite good. You should have bought more of the books.

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