Legal Issues

by Mike Masnick

Filed Under:
ajax, patents, web 2.0

Patent That Could Sue Web 2.0 Out Of Business Up For Auction

from the well-this-could-be-interesting dept

The Register has an article about one of the patents up for sale in the latest Ocean Tomo auction that could potentially be used to sue pretty much every web 2.0 company. The patent, for "a global sideband service distributed computing method" is described by its owner as being a core component in any kind of AJAX implementation, and lists out basically everyone as infringing. Any site that uses AJAX? Yup. Google, eBay, Yahoo? Yup. Amazon's S3 service? You bet. Whether or not this patent is valid or whether any of these companies actually infringe on it are two wide open questions, but given how much money is being bet on lawsuits of this nature, you can bet someone will take a shot at it. And how long will it be before one of the patent system defenders shows up to claim that these firms clearly "stole" the technology?

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  1. identicon
    Mark Murphy, 26 Mar 2008 @ 5:17am

    AJAX? AJAX??!?

    Does nobody read these patents?

    There are two independent claims (i.e., the most general claims in the patent). Both are tied to the notion of "utilizing idle resources in multiple clients". This tosses most uses of AJAX out as a potential infringing technology. AJAX is not tied to "idle resources"; rather, most uses of AJAX today are for user interactivity. There might be a couple of specialized places AJAX-type stuff gets used that's tied to "idle resources", but those are pretty far off the beaten path. Similarly, it is unclear how Amazon S3 (which isn't tied to AJAX) could be considered infringing, since S3 makes no assumptions whatsoever about what the clients are doing, let alone be dependent on "idle resources".

    The patent much more closely describes things like Folding@Home, SETI@Home, and other distributed computing projects. The patent was filed in January 1999; SETI@Home launched in May 1999, and Folding@Home launched later than that. Hopefully, there was enough distributed computing research before 1999 that this patent can be overturned if needed. Or, possibly, there was enough written about SETI@Home's development work in 1998 to constitute prior art.

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