Amy Harmon on SBC's plan to download the wallets of anybody who uses a frame-based menu. The company is demanding licensing fees ranging from $527 to $16.6 million from frame users. (Old-timers will recall the original battle of the frames, which involved framers embedding other peoples' content in their own frames; Free Republic was there!) SBC traces its patent to 1996, though I recall the history of frame-based sites going back further than that, a point Harmon refers to:
Several [web developers] said the technique, in which "frames" are used to define areas of the screen that stay frozen while the user looks through other pages, was first introduced with the Netscape 2.0 browser in 1995.
Whenever these stories of industry-crushing web patents fly—with folks claiming ownership of the hyperlink, the back button, the shopping cart, and the "Ate My Balls" tag—I get that same feeling of unease I used to feel about the impending arrival of the Killer Bees: If this thing happens, it could end all life as we know it, and the only consolation is that this thing will never happen.