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4/6/2007
08:35 PM
Charles Babcock
Charles Babcock
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A Patent On An Ajax Generator? Ah, That Could Be Important

On April 2, MikeyTheK on Slashdot posted a notice that a start-up had received a patent on compiling Java or C++ into Ajax applications. This blog, like so many others, turned out to be more wrong than right. Nevertheless, it aired an important fact. The start-up, Morfik, which stepped into the spotlight at Web 2.0 in 2005, filed for a patent on a Java-to-Javascript compiler just before its San Francisco debut.

On April 2, MikeyTheK on Slashdot posted a notice that a start-up had received a patent on compiling Java or C++ into Ajax applications. This blog, like so many others, turned out to be more wrong than right. Nevertheless, it aired an important fact. The start-up, Morfik, which stepped into the spotlight at Web 2.0 in 2005, filed for a patent on a Java-to-Javascript compiler just before its San Francisco debut.The U.S. Patent Office decided March 18 of this year to publish the details of its application. There's a number on the document it published which will become Morfik's patent number--if the patent is granted. Seeing the document, it's possible to leap to the wrong conclusion, not that cool bloggers ever do such a thing.

Aram Mirkazemi, the developer of the compiler, says his Palo Alto attorney, William Milks of Russo and Hale LLP, advises that the Patent Office wouldn't publish the application if there were no prospect the patent would be granted. On the contrary, it's a sign that the Office sees cause to issue the patent and is seeking further comment. Morfik is about 18-months into an application process that may have another two years to go. If a patent is granted, it recognizes that Morfik started on the idea of a C++ or Java to Javascript compiler quite early. In an interview, Merkazemi says work got under way in 1999 and took about 18 months to complete. "We have fairly detailed records, a fairly detailed diary, of Morfik starting work before 2000," he notes.

Why does anyone care about this application? Javascript of course is the vital ingredient of Ajax, which stands for asynchronous Javascript and XML. The term wasn't coined until Feb. 2005, which puts Morfik ahead of the crowd when it comes to recognizing the potential of such a compiler. Mirkazemi says Morfik is not sitting around obsessing over whether it will get a patent. At the end of March, it brought the 1.0 release of its Morfik 07 WebOS AppsBuilder, implementing a development environment around the compiler. There are numerous Ajax tools already in the market, but only one other high level language to Javascript compiler that I know of, Google's Google Web Toolkit.

Furthermore, Morfik is making its technology available for free download at Morfik.com. Although it's an honor system, it's saying, you get a perpetual license to use the Express edition. "If you want to use it [for your own purposes], fine. If you want to make money out of it, then please give us a share of the money," says Fuad Ta'eed, Morfik's VP of marketing. To build products with it, you need a Professional license, terms to be negotiated.

Morfik, located in Hobart, Australia, is a user of the Firebird open source database and Free Pascal in its product and is known in the Silicon Valley for its contributions to those projects. Will this small company get this patent? Even if the Patent Office approves, should it get this patent? There would be implications for those who want to rapidly build Ajax applications with its tools, if it does. But so far it shows little inclination to exploit its breakthrough and a lot of inclination to get it broadly accepted.

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