With Internet-based intellectual property lawsuits on the rise, the question has become: how will Internet law keep up with the freedom of speech issues – and, to what degree will these laws affect the web hosting industry as a whole? The ramifications of some recent Internet litigation, and its impact on the web hosting industry are presented and examined below.
Recently, a Canadian firm has claimed infringement Dmca ignore VPS upon a patent it owns, with regard to Resource Description Framework (RDF), a software based upon Extensible Markup Language (XML). Using this technology, programmers can write software to access web resources, such as web page content, music files and digital photos. Vancouver-based UFIL Unified Data Technologies, holds U.S. patent 5,684,985, a ”’method and apparatus utilizing bond identifiers executed upon accessing of an endo-dynamic information node,” awarded in November 1997. According to the Patent Enforcement and Royalties Ltd. (PEARL)’s web site, as many as 45 companies may be infringing upon the patents. It is believed that the patent may also infringe on the RDF Site Summary standard (web content that’s written in something other than HTML). For example, RSS (originally developed by Netscape Communications, now owned by AOL Time Warner), allows web sites to exchange information and content.
The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), which evaluates and recommends standards for web technologies, has endorsed the RDF standard. PEARL has been engaged to work with UFIL, to enforce the claims, since 1999. According to information released by the W3C, Daniel Weitzner, Technology and Society Domain Leader, indicated that the Consortium had not been approached directly regarding the patent issue. Mr. Weitzner stated, ”We consider it to be quite important that fundamental technology specifications such as RDF should be able to be implemented on a royalty-free basis. If anything comes to our attention that suggests that’s not possible, we’ll pay attention to legitimate property rights out there, but at the same time, RDF was developed in the open by a very broad range of the web community.”Freedom of Speech Issues
An amicus brief was recently filed by Yahoo!, Inc., in its lawsuit against LaLigue contre le Racisme et l’ Antisemitisme, Case No. 01-17424 (9th Cir.). Later this year, a federal appellate court will decide whether or not French anti-discrimination law can restrict freedom of speech on U.S.-based web sites that are accessible in France.
In 2000, a Paris court ruled that the Yahoo! web site violated French law, due to the fact that its users offered certain Nazi artifacts for sale. In order to force compliance with the order, French plaintiffs must seek enforcement from a U.S. court. In response, Yahoo! sought a declaratory ruling and a federal district court held that enforcing the French order would violate the First Amendment. The matter is now on appeal. The Yahoo! case presents the question of whether the Internet should be governed by myriad local censorship laws from around the world. U.S. courts have held uniformly that the Internet should receive the highest degree of First Amendment protection. Web.com’s Patent and Intellectual Property with Web Hosting Company, Hostopia
In July, 2006, Atlanta-based web hosting, managed email, ecommerce, and online business applications giant, Web.com,
entered into a non-exclusive license agreement with web hosting firm, Hostopia.com Inc., granting Hostopia the rights to two of Web.com’s patents over five years, on a non-transferable basis. Web.com’s portfolio of 19 registered, and numerous pending, U.S. patents relates to several core technologies that are vital to the web hosting industry.
The licensed patents broadly cover methods for website building and web hosting control panels. According to the agreement, Hostopia will pay Web.com a royalty equal to 10% of their gross U.S. retail revenues for five years. In addition, the companies have entered a cross-license agreement in which Web.com was granted rights to thousands of HTML and FLASH website templates and a license to additional intellectual property in the future at no additional cost. The companies have also agreed to a mutual covenant not to sue for patent infringement.
Spokespersons for Web.com had this to say, concerning the licensing agreement with Hostopia:
”Web.com has a portfolio of 19 registered patents with several additional pending patents. Web.com’s patents touch on a number of key technologies that are vital to the web hosting and Software-as-a-Services industries. Web.com’s first patent license transaction was a milestone for the Company as it validated Web.com’s belief in the value of its patents. Hostopia paid Web.com an amount that was roughly equal to 10% of Hostopia’s U.S. retail revenues over five years. Web.com intends to use its patent rights as a means of extending its brand and its technology so as to create value for its shareholders and to protect its innovations.”