As Mike over at Flashgen.com and also Aral Balkan reports it seems someone is looking to contest the ridiculous Balthaser RIA patent that was reported a while ago by a number of Flash developers. I have also been contacted by Oliver Lorenz with regard to providing more information and certainly urge anyone that wants to beable to continue RIA development without the potential of infringing on this patent.
The issue I have with the patent is its broad and sweeping coverage of very common interface and application GUI design systems. As an example reading one portion of the “Summary of The Invention”.
When editing a component, the user may modify a number of features associated with a component including, but not limited to, the volume of an acoustic component, the link between a menu entry and an associated component, the font, font size, color, or effect of a text field, or the layout, size, transparency, rotation, color, position, or level of any graphical rich-media component. The user may modify these components by means of a slider bar or a textual input field. In addition, the user may modify the volume of a sound component by means of up and down volume buttons. The user may undo modifications made to a component’s parameters. The user may also modify the position of a graphical rich-media component by a graphical input field, by clicking and dragging said component, or by text fields. When the user modifies the position of a graphical rich-media component by means of clicking and dragging said component, said component may align itself to a grid point or a guide line. The user may also modify the style and the Uniform Resource Locator (URL) of a component linked to a menu entry.
Unless I am mistaken the recently posted link to Netvibes would actually infringe on this part of the patent. In that the user can select ‘panes’ or ‘graphical rich-media components’ of the netvibes application and alter there position within the application by clicking and dragging them to a new position.
In this example, because there is no specific technology linked to the patent claim, any RIA in any technology, Flash, Ajax, Appolo, XUL Runner, HaXe, Sparkle, add any other future technology here….. These systems would all be in break of the patent claim.
And this is just ONE of the EIGHTY THREE different claims in this patent.
Very worrying I think any developer would agree. Everyone involved in Internet application development, in my opinion, should take a serious look at this patent. Think about ANY work they have done or seen in past. The work they are doing today. Then consider the possible implications of future networked development. If you know of anything that has been posted, exhibited or shown publicly that can bring this patent down, it is in every ones interest to make it known to strengthen the Magix reexamination.
And remember we are not just talking about flash applications or work here. If you remember or are aware of ANY online application, in any technology, be it DHTML, Director, Java or anything else. If it used any, all or even one of these systems to allow user interation then it may well be enough to show that Mr Neil Balthaser did not invent these systems, and certainly has not right to lay claim to doing so as he has in his patent application.