AJAX under patent attack
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
The concept of a patent after-market is not new to me, but is not anything to brag about. There is something iffy about it, although it's completely legal. If you are the seller, you are in a position to make a lot of money, as you are more or less selling your technology. If you are the buyer, you are also in a position to profit from someone's innovation. No, not by commercializing it or creating new products but by licensing and enforcing your "new to you" intellectual rights.
The site Reg Developer has an article
discussing the sale of a patent that could include the AJAX technology we've all grown to love (or hate, depending on the use).
The concept of asynchronous server calls is apparently patented
. It's not specifically naming AJAX, as the AJAX moniker came after the filing's date, though it could be included. For the buyer, the payout is increased by the number of well known companies allegedly infringing on the IP. For example, Google, Microsoft, and Apple.
I'm not sure if the new owners would go after the little guy creating AJAX apps. I also wonder if the patent would be upheld in the courts. AJAX is not new, so it will be interesting to see if previous instances of the process specifically described in the patent were in use before 1999.
For now, however, I'm still safe with my demo AJAX apps
(I have more, but are on-going development contracts).
Imagine a world where you have to pay a license fee to use HTML? Sure, HTML and AJAX are not the same thing, but AJAX is a very powerful tool under the right circumstances and it is one of the Web 2.0 technologies (not ubiquitous as HTML, but necessary to create highly interactive browser apps).
I don't think the process or ability to execute asynchronous RPCs should be monetized. In other words, crippling developers will probably not be the noblest contribution to the web world. We'll see what happens next week.
It happened with the GIF format not so long ago.
Reminds me how happy I am of living in Europe :))