Since Eolas won $521million in a lawsuit against Microsoft last month, Microsoft, Macromedia and the W3C have been in conclave on how to work around the patent dispute. Eolas seem to own the patent on a browser's ability to automatically launch and display multimedia programs with plug-ins - eg, click and see a Flash movie/ hear an MP3 / watch a quick-time video.
One way round the monumentally moronic ruling is for broswer manufacturers to insert dialogue boxes ("Are you sure you want to see the movie you clicked to watch, yes or no?") between broswer and plug-in. Another way is to move the data to the Web page itself, rather than pulling it from an external source - requiring a huge amount of work on the part of the developer. That's you.
This issue potentially affects every modern browser, although only Microsoft has been sued. Microsoft is appealing. (More on ZDNet.) It's pretty obvious that Eolas are very petty: their website points out "A final note: Eolas also 'invented' (designed, actually) the now-ubiquitous stylized "e" logo. IBM purchased rights to use it from us in 1997." Well, aren't they clever?
This is an example of a stupid lawsuit and a ridiculous patent, although U.S. patent officers have a history of approving idiotic things like this - for example, Amazon patenting "one-click" e-commerce.
Maybe if enough people write to Eolas and ask them to stop pursuing this claim, they'll listen. Here's a mail that I sent them today; I'll post any response I get from them.