The inventor of the World Wide Web, Tim Berners-Lee, testified in a courtroom Tuesday for the first time in his life. The web pioneer flew down from Boston, near where he teaches at MIT, to an eastern Texas federal court to speak to a jury of two men and six women about the early days of the web.His trip is part of an effort by a group of internet companies and retailers trying to defeat two patents — patents that a patent-licensing company called Eolas and the University of California are saying entitle them to royalty payments from just about anyone running a website with “interactive” features, like rotating pictures or streaming video.
Michael Doyle, a low-profile Chicago biologist, claims that it was actually he and two co-inventors who invented — and patented — the “interactive web” before anyone else, while they were employed by the University of California back in 1993. Doyle argues that a program he created at the UC’s San Francisco campus, which allowed doctors to view embryos over the nascent World Wide Web, was the first program that allowed users to interact with images inside of a web browser window. The defendants hotly contest that, saying that it was programs like Pei-Yuan Wei’s pioneering Viola that first offered this functionality.
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