The US Patent and Trademark office is re-examining the controversial Eolas patent, following objections to it presented by the Worldwide Web Consortium (W3C) last week.

The Eolas patent describes how a Web browser can utilize external multimedia applications. Software company Eolas recently won a $521 million payout from Microsoft on strength of the latter firm breaking that patent.

Microsoft has now revealed that it will make changes to the way its Internet Explorer browser works, in a move which threatens to transform elements of the way the Web – particularly online multimedia – works.

This threat drove W3C director Tim Berners-Lee to point to a selection of examples of computer technology which the Consortium sees as 'prior art', invalidating that patent.

Patent Office deputy commissioner for patent examination policy Stephen Kunin told Cnet: "A substantial outcry from a widespread segment of the affected industry has essentially raised a question of patentability with respect to the patent claim."