The Balthaser Greed?
I just read that Neil Balthaser has apparently patented Rich Internet Applications. The patent is question is 7,000,180 and, having read through it, I don't see how it supports Neil's reported claim in the above article: "The broader claim is one that basically says that if you got a rich Internet application, it is covered by this patent."
The patent appears to be specifically about the sort of service that the -- now aged and somewhat pitiable -- Balthaser.com provides. In other words, a web-based application for building web applications.
In my reading of it, the patent appears to very specifically target a certain type of application. In the abstract alone it states that the patent pertains to: "A host computer system, containing processes for creating rich-media applications, [that] is accessed from a remote user computer system via an Internet connection. User account information and rich-media component specifications are uploaded via the established Internet connection for a specific user account. Rich-media applications are created, deleted, or modified in a user account via the established Internet connection. Rich-media components are added to, modified in, or deleted from scenes of a rich-media application based on information contained in user requests. After creation, the rich-media application is viewed or saved on the host computer system, or downloaded to the user computer system via the established Internet connection."
So not all Rich Internet Applications, because not all web applications are created via other web applications/tools like Balthaser's so-called Pro:Fx.
Nevertheless it appears that Neil Balthaser at least wants to try to use his patent to bleed RIA developers dry -- some of whom have been building RIAs for longer than he has. What a wonderful man! I wonder if he has an Amazon wishlist somewhere?..
A short-term solution might include voting with our dollars to make sure that we don't finance Balthaser's efforts by using his service (is anyone using his services currently? I'd love to hear from you -- and whether or not you'll continue using them. Please feel free to use the comments to let me know.) A longer-term goal might be to start gathering prior art. Perhaps we can start doing this on the OSFlash wiki.
I know that Branden was building RIAs prior to/during 2001 (when this patent was filed) as he was the main Flash architect behind the K12 Virtual School that we built at that time. This was a huge RIA (and my first.) The content for it alone took a whole day to offline generate at the time (remember Generator? It was built using Flash 5 and has since been updated and upgraded by my dear friend Charlie Cordova, myself and others and, although I haven't been involved with it in the longest time, I hear that it is still going strong (and they *still* haven't fixed that hairline border issue around the app -- grrr!.. I was bitching about that more than five years ago guys!)
Software patents in general are a farce and I hope with all my heart that the EU will not bow to the tremendous pressure being put on it by the US at the moment to implement them over here. Regardless of what happens, and regardless of my understanding that this patent does *not* apply to all RIAs, I still believe that we, as a community, need to stand firm against this claim.
Oh yes, and funnily enough, Neil Balthaser apparently used to work for Macromedia as a "VP of Flash Strategy".
Not cool at all.Does anyone else think that we're witnessing Neil Balthaser pull a Ray Horn?