A case is being tried in Tyler, Texas, this week that could determine the future of the Internet. On one side: The world's top web companies, including Google, Amazon, Yahoo, and Apple. On the other: A tiny company called Eolas Technologies that claims it patented the "interactive web." In its telling, a program by Chicago biologist Michael Doyle allowing doctors to view embryos, developed in 1993, was the first to allow users to interact with images in a browser, Wired explains.
Tech companies say that's not true. But based on that claim, Eolas has filed a massive suit, saying that everything from streaming videos to "suggest" features on search engines is infringing on its intellectual property. Many web pioneers are battling the suit—Tim Berners-Lee (called the "web's father" by Wired) testified yesterday that patent suits could endanger the future of the online innovation. But don't underestimate Eolas' chances—it got a huge settlement off Microsoft in 2007, and kept the case in East Texas, a favorite destination for so-called "patent trolls."