Ailing patent troll targets Facebook and Wal-Mart, claims to own web

Even after Amazon (s amzn) and Google (s goog) put two bullets into its head earlier this year, overgrown patent troll Eolas is stumbling forward with new lawsuits against Facebook (s fb), Wal-Mart (s wmt) and Disney (s dis).

Eolas is a shell company that had been stomping around the country demanding companies pay it to use basic technology that lets users “interact” with the web. It suffered what looked like a fatal blow earlier this year when Amazon and other Eolas targets persuaded a Texas jury that two of its patents were invalid.

Nonetheless, Eolas has dusted itself off and filed new claims based on the same patents plus two more that are offshoots from the original patent issued in 1998. That patent, which can be seen here, is entitled “Distributed hypermedia method for automatically invoking external application providing interaction and display of embedded objects within a hypermedia document.”

Eolas’ legal rampage led the man regarded as the inventor of the World Wide Web, Tim Berners-Lee, to testify in February that its patents should be invalid.

The troll’s activities have also proved controversial because the University of California has been its partner in the patent lawsuits. A spokesperson told Reuters, which was first to report the Facebook suit, that the school considered the patents public assets and that it “should be paid a fair value when a third party exploits that university asset for profit.”

Lawyers for McKool Smith, the firm representing the troll, didn’t return requests for comment. The law firm, which has won hundreds of millions in Texas troll cases through commissions of up to 40 percent, has seen its fortunes turn in the last year.

A Wall Street Journal story last month quoted a lawyer who said McKool Smith may now have to survive on a stream of trout rather than big marlins.

Here’s the Facebook case:

Eolas v Facebook