A Patent on Rich Internet Applications

3 Mar 2006 - 12:47pm
8 years ago
15 replies
911 reads
Dan Saffer
2003

Hey, I made some Flash 3 animations in 1999. Doesn't that mean I
invented the concept of internet applications?

"A patent has been granted to a relatively unknown California Web-
design firm for an invention its creator says covers the design and
creation of most rich-media applications used over the Internet. The
patent holder, Balthaser Online Inc., says it could license nearly
any rich-media Internet application across a broad range of devices
and networks.

Potentially tens of thousands of businesses--not only software makers
employing its business processes but companies offering rich-media on
their Websites--could be subject to licensing fees when they use rich-
media technology over the Internet.

The patent--issued on Valentine's Day--covers all rich-media
technology implementations, including Flash, Flex, Java, Ajax, and
XAML, when the rich-media application is accessed on any device over
the Internet, including desktops, mobile devices, set-top boxes, and
video game consoles, says inventor Neil Balthaser, CEO of Balthaser
Online, which he owns with his father Ken. "You can consider it a
pioneering or umbrella patent. The broader claim is one that
basically says that if you got a rich Internet application, it is
covered by this patent."

http://www.informationweek.com/story/showArticle.jhtml?
articleID=180206472&cid=RSSfeed_IWK_News

BULLSHIT.

Dan Saffer
Sr. Interaction Designer, Adaptive Path
http://www.adaptivepath.com
http://www.odannyboy.com

Comments

3 Mar 2006 - 12:56pm
ldebett
2004

Interesting... could this be theft of IP?

"The owner of Balthaser Online, Inc is the former Vice President of Strategy
for Macromedia, Neil Balthaser."

~Lisa

3 Mar 2006 - 12:57pm
Stacy Westbrook
2006

That's just sad. Balthaser made some great Flash stuff back when that
was very hard to do, but that doesn't mean they own patentable rights
to anything. I guess this is their way of trying to bring back the
media hype.

Not to mention that their current site falls short of what I would
expect it to be after seven years and their previous industry-leading
work. How disappointing.

Stacy

Stacy Westbrook | Senior Interactive Designer
Via Training, LLC | Know more. Sell more.
1620 SW Taylor Street | Suite 100 | Portland, OR 97205
503.595.9208 direct | 503.276.1548 fax
http://www.viatraining.com

On Mar 3, 2006, at 10:47 AM, Dan Saffer wrote:

> [Please voluntarily trim replies to include only relevant quoted
> material.]
>
> Hey, I made some Flash 3 animations in 1999. Doesn't that mean I
> invented the concept of internet applications?
>
> "A patent has been granted to a relatively unknown California Web-
> design firm for an invention its creator says covers the design and
> creation of most rich-media applications used over the Internet. The
> patent holder, Balthaser Online Inc., says it could license nearly
> any rich-media Internet application across a broad range of devices
> and networks.
>
> Potentially tens of thousands of businesses--not only software makers
> employing its business processes but companies offering rich-media on
> their Websites--could be subject to licensing fees when they use rich-
> media technology over the Internet.
>
> The patent--issued on Valentine's Day--covers all rich-media
> technology implementations, including Flash, Flex, Java, Ajax, and
> XAML, when the rich-media application is accessed on any device over
> the Internet, including desktops, mobile devices, set-top boxes, and
> video game consoles, says inventor Neil Balthaser, CEO of Balthaser
> Online, which he owns with his father Ken. "You can consider it a
> pioneering or umbrella patent. The broader claim is one that
> basically says that if you got a rich Internet application, it is
> covered by this patent."
>
>
> http://www.informationweek.com/story/showArticle.jhtml?
> articleID=180206472&cid=RSSfeed_IWK_News
>
>
> BULLSHIT.
>
>
>
> Dan Saffer
> Sr. Interaction Designer, Adaptive Path
> http://www.adaptivepath.com
> http://www.odannyboy.com
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> List Guidelines ............ http://listguide.ixda.org/
> List Help .................. http://listhelp.ixda.org/
> (Un)Subscription Options ... http://subscription-options.ixda.org/
> Announcements List ......... http://subscribe-announce.ixda.org/
> Questions .................. lists at ixda.org
> Home ....................... http://ixda.org/
> Resource Library ........... http://resources.ixda.org

3 Mar 2006 - 1:39pm
Peter Bagnall
2003

Yawn.

This reminds me of when British Telecom tried to enforce its patent of
the hyperlink. It had a valid patent, from before the web, and it was
still an absolute laughing stock. I know, I was working in research at
BT at the time and we were all dreadfully embarrassed by the idiocy of
it all.

This is going to make no difference to me whatsoever. Patent nonsense!

--Pete

On 3 Mar 2006, at 18:47, Dan Saffer wrote:

> [Please voluntarily trim replies to include only relevant quoted
> material.]
>
> Hey, I made some Flash 3 animations in 1999. Doesn't that mean I
> invented the concept of internet applications?
>
> "A patent has been granted to a relatively unknown California Web-
> design firm for an invention its creator says covers the design and
> creation of most rich-media applications used over the Internet. The
> patent holder, Balthaser Online Inc., says it could license nearly
> any rich-media Internet application across a broad range of devices
> and networks.
>
> Potentially tens of thousands of businesses--not only software makers
> employing its business processes but companies offering rich-media on
> their Websites--could be subject to licensing fees when they use rich-
> media technology over the Internet.
>
> The patent--issued on Valentine's Day--covers all rich-media
> technology implementations, including Flash, Flex, Java, Ajax, and
> XAML, when the rich-media application is accessed on any device over
> the Internet, including desktops, mobile devices, set-top boxes, and
> video game consoles, says inventor Neil Balthaser, CEO of Balthaser
> Online, which he owns with his father Ken. "You can consider it a
> pioneering or umbrella patent. The broader claim is one that
> basically says that if you got a rich Internet application, it is
> covered by this patent."
>
>
> http://www.informationweek.com/story/showArticle.jhtml?
> articleID=180206472&cid=RSSfeed_IWK_News
>
>
> BULLSHIT.
>
>
>
> Dan Saffer
> Sr. Interaction Designer, Adaptive Path
> http://www.adaptivepath.com
> http://www.odannyboy.com
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> List Guidelines ............ http://listguide.ixda.org/
> List Help .................. http://listhelp.ixda.org/
> (Un)Subscription Options ... http://subscription-options.ixda.org/
> Announcements List ......... http://subscribe-announce.ixda.org/
> Questions .................. lists at ixda.org
> Home ....................... http://ixda.org/
> Resource Library ........... http://resources.ixda.org
>
>
----------------------------------------------------------
As democracy is perfected, the office of president represents,
more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. On some
great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach
their heart's desire at last and the White House will be adorned
by a downright moron.
H.L. Mencken (1880 - 1956)

Peter Bagnall - http://people.surfaceeffect.com/pete/

3 Mar 2006 - 2:10pm
John Vaughan - ...
2004

>... and we were all dreadfully embarrassed by the idiocy of
> it all..... Patent nonsense!

I always liked the epic battle by Apple to retain intellectual property
ownership of "the trash-can icon = Delete". There's something pathetically
poetic about that premise....

3 Mar 2006 - 2:16pm
Markus Grupp-TM
2006

>> ... and we were all dreadfully embarrassed by the idiocy of it
>> all..... Patent nonsense!
>> I always liked the epic battle by Apple to retain intellectual property ownership of "the trash-can icon = Delete".
>> There's something pathetically poetic about that premise....

As is Cingular's recent patent on the selection and delivery of graphic and text-based emoticons on mobile devices...

3 Mar 2006 - 2:49pm
John Vaughan - ...
2004

Lordy, this sounds like an apt segue into some well-deserved lawyer-bashing.

> As is Cingular's recent patent on the selection and delivery of graphic
> and text-based emoticons on mobile devices...

3 Mar 2006 - 3:13pm
John Vaughan - ...
2004

ANECDOTE:

In the Spring of 1982 I was working on a 2000 page site for Bank of
America's presence on the Times Mirror Videotex Field Trial, in which I not
only led the page production team, but also created a huge library of images
that illustrated our bright new electronic online future.

At one point I spent far too much time with a BofA lawyer who wanted me to
agree that the corporation owned the concept of "electronic funds
transfer" - and that I would never be able to make any more pictures of that
concept for any other competitor.

I had to point out that BofA was welcome to own the specific graphical code
images that I'd created for them, but that the creation of appropriate
graphical representations of concepts was in fact the very core of my
design business: To constrain me from my profession would be restraint of
trade.

BTW: The example "concept image" in question was not even a schematic - It
was a globe that had two transmision towers on it, with animated dollar
signs traveling back and forth between them.

Lawyers....sigh....

A MODEST PROPOSAL

As practitioners and production "talent", we are as a group susceptible to
all sorts of silly-assed manipulation by well-funded blowhards - like these
frivolous patents, for instance. Might be an appropriate moment for the
IxDA - as an organization - to take a principled public stand on an issue
that affects us professionally. Are you with me, comrades?

3 Mar 2006 - 3:32pm
Greg Petroff
2004

John,

I think you are right about your proposal. There are some other simple
things that the org might want to investigate regarding ethics, competition
for work etc. I encourage you to volunteer your time in this effort. Our
fledgling org has a temporary aparatus (37 Signal's Basecamp) in place for
committee work. We currently do not have an ethics / policy committee but
we should have one. If you are interested in this (and anyone else out
there) feel free to contact me directly or shoot an email to our volunteer
coordiantor at volunteers at ixda.org.

Greg Petroff
Board Member, Treasurer
IxDA

On 3/3/06, John Vaughan <vaughan1 at optonline.net> wrote:
>
> [Please voluntarily trim replies to include only relevant quoted
> material.]
>
> ANECDOTE:
>
> In the Spring of 1982 I was working on a 2000 page site for Bank of
> America's presence on the Times Mirror Videotex Field Trial, in which I
> not
> only led the page production team, but also created a huge library of
> images
> that illustrated our bright new electronic online future.
>
> At one point I spent far too much time with a BofA lawyer who wanted me
> to
> agree that the corporation owned the concept of "electronic funds
> transfer" - and that I would never be able to make any more pictures of
> that
> concept for any other competitor.
>
> I had to point out that BofA was welcome to own the specific graphical
> code
> images that I'd created for them, but that the creation of appropriate
> graphical representations of concepts was in fact the very core of my
> design business: To constrain me from my profession would be restraint of
> trade.
>
> BTW: The example "concept image" in question was not even a schematic -
> It
> was a globe that had two transmision towers on it, with animated dollar
> signs traveling back and forth between them.
>
> Lawyers....sigh....
>
>
> A MODEST PROPOSAL
>
> As practitioners and production "talent", we are as a group susceptible to
> all sorts of silly-assed manipulation by well-funded blowhards - like
> these
> frivolous patents, for instance. Might be an appropriate moment for the
> IxDA - as an organization - to take a principled public stand on an issue
> that affects us professionally. Are you with me, comrades?
>
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> List Guidelines ............ http://listguide.ixda.org/
> List Help .................. http://listhelp.ixda.org/
> (Un)Subscription Options ... http://subscription-options.ixda.org/
> Announcements List ......... http://subscribe-announce.ixda.org/
> Questions .................. lists at ixda.org
> Home ....................... http://ixda.org/
> Resource Library ........... http://resources.ixda.org
>

--
Gregory Petroff
Mobile # 646 387 2841

3 Mar 2006 - 3:37pm
steveg72
2006

There are many motivations behind these types of "obvious" patents.
Many of the inventors just
do it for the bonus incentives and performance metrics, but the
companies submit the
the patents (often $20K-$50K of lawyer time) for several reasons,
including:

1. to protect themselves against nuisance lawsuits, i.e., stopping
someone else from gaining the
the patent. Under this strategy, the intent is not to enforce
the patent, but merely to stop others from interfering with your
business (some companies
just publish the idea in an obscure journal, or they apply for the
patent to have it published in the patent database).

2. to increase their patent portfolio. Many companies have mutual
agreements allowing them to use each other's patents. In many cases,
the estimated value of the portfolio is used to determine a cash
agreement, so the company with more patents gets some cash to balance
the exchange
of value (everyone knows that not all patents are equal, and that
many have zero value, but its a rough cheap estimate of relative
worth). Patent
portfolios also get used for bragging rights. (My inventors in
large companies are embarrassed by having their names associated with
some of these
patents but are pressured into by their management. You really have
to wonder about the patents with a long list of inventors, some of whom
are upper
management)

3. lawyers routinely walk among the technical staff asking what they
are working on and attempt to turn everything into a patentable
concept. Sometimes this is well motivated (a company should secure and
benefit from its legitimate IP), and sometimes the lawyers just want
more work to justify their budgets.

4. to prevent the competition from working in a domain or as insurance
in case a particular product category becomes important. This is
often an abuse of the IP concept. The company doesn't intend to do
much in an area, but just in case the area becomes important, they can
use the patents to leverage an advantage.

5. (this is often done by small partnerships) to create something they
have no intention to develop, but that they can use to sue other
companies in nuisance lawsuits.

6. also, in some companies, the inventor and the people evaluating its
value don't know that much about the domain, and think its a really
cool idea. This may have merit, but often not. These patents tend to
be rather vague about how the concept gets implemented.

Every once in awhile, some lawyer and VP realizes that their company
has a patent that they never planned to enforce, and tries to enforce
it anyway. Sigh.

Of course, there are many legitimate reasons for patents, and I haven't
enumerated those. Unfortunately, the expense of applying for a patent
almost ensures that the lawyer will work out something with the
examiner. The thing to remember is that what is claimed is often much
narrower than what is discussed in the patent embodiment, and so may
have little force even if the patent is valid. Secondly, many patents
fall apart when challenged.

Finally, the copyright issue is far more problematic. Patents expire.
The term for copyrights keeps getting extended. Lawrence Lessig's
books are a great intro to this area.

-Steve
On Mar 3, 2006, at 3:49 PM, John Vaughan wrote:

> [Please voluntarily trim replies to include only relevant quoted
> material.]
>
>
> Lordy, this sounds like an apt segue into some well-deserved
> lawyer-bashing.
>
>> As is Cingular's recent patent on the selection and delivery of
>> graphic
>> and text-based emoticons on mobile devices...
>
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> List Guidelines ............ http://listguide.ixda.org/
> List Help .................. http://listhelp.ixda.org/
> (Un)Subscription Options ... http://subscription-options.ixda.org/
> Announcements List ......... http://subscribe-announce.ixda.org/
> Questions .................. lists at ixda.org
> Home ....................... http://ixda.org/
> Resource Library ........... http://resources.ixda.org

3 Mar 2006 - 4:26pm
Dan Saffer
2003

On Mar 3, 2006, at 11:39 AM, Peter Bagnall wrote:

> Patent nonsense!

It is nonsense, and probably unenforceable.

On Mar 3, 2006, at 1:13 PM, John Vaughan wrote:

> Might be an appropriate moment for the
> IxDA - as an organization - to take a principled public stand on an
> issue
> that affects us professionally. Are you with me, comrades?
>

I'm with you. It is one thing to patent an UI idea that creates a
distinct technical/business advantage for your company. I'm thinking
of, say, Amazon's one click button. It is quite another to file broad
patents that hinder whole industries and whose features are in common
use. The BT patenting the hyperlink, Microsoft's patenting the
scrollbar, and now this ridiculous RIA patent. This is such a naked
grab for money, it sickens the stomach.

Dan

3 Mar 2006 - 4:38pm
Yury Frolov
2006

Yep! This raises a question about the US Patent Office... Do they
know what they are doing?
Yury

--------------------------------
Yury Frolov
http://www.studioasterisk.com

On Mar 3, 2006, at 2:26 PM, Dan Saffer wrote:

> It is quite another to file broad
> patents that hinder whole industries and whose features are in common
> use. The BT patenting the hyperlink, Microsoft's patenting the
> scrollbar, and now this ridiculous RIA patent.

3 Mar 2006 - 4:48pm
Nancy Broden
2005

Given the patent office's revisiting and invalidating NTPs patents
persuant to its grudge match with RIM/Blackberry, I would say no.

On 3/3/06, Yury Frolov <yury at studioasterisk.com> wrote:
> [Please voluntarily trim replies to include only relevant quoted material.]
>
> Yep! This raises a question about the US Patent Office... Do they
> know what they are doing?

-- Nancy
--------------------------------------
nancy.broden at gmail.com

3 Mar 2006 - 5:29pm
Louise Ferguson
2005

Here in the UK/Europe, we've been fighting the introduction of US-style
patents, aware of the ridiculous situations this can lead to. The UK
authorities are currently once again considering the introduction of these
'no originality required' patents, and have mounted another inquiry (the
Gowers Review of IP), so this job is unfortunately never over.

Anyone in the UK, please check out the recently established Open Rights
Group, which seeks to both defend citizens' digital rights and push back
against daft IP in the digital domain. We'll be giving evidence to the
Gowers Review in the next couple of months.
Note that similar pressure groups have also recently been established in
Canada and the Republic of Ireland.

And yes, designers and other professionals need to voice their concerns, or
it will be assumed we don't have any.

Louise Ferguson
VP, UK Usability Professionals' Association
Chair, Open Rights Group
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Open_Rights_Group

3 Mar 2006 - 5:53pm
Juan Lanus
2005

By 2003 Microsoft "invented" and patented Internet Applications:

Application program interface for network software platform
Abstract: An application program interface (API) provides a set of
functions for application developers who build Web applications on
Microsoft Corporation's .NET.TM. platform.
...
A software architecture for a distributed computing system comprising:
an application configured to handle requests submitted by remote
devices over a network; and an application program interface to
present functions used by the application to access network and
computing resources of the distributed computing system.
...

The patent seems to refer specifically the "dot net" plattform. Only
that filing a patent is, IMO, not appropriate. Maybe some other type
or intellectual property like for example publishing rights as if they
were publishing a book.
The definition of it's reach seem to be stated vaguely on purpore, so
make it more widely applicable. See the conclusion:

"Although the invention has been described in language specific to
structural ii features and/or methodological acts, it is to be
understood that the invention defined in the appended claims is not
necessarily limited to the specific features or acts described.
Rather, the specific features and acts are disclosed as exemplary
forms of implementing the claimed invention".

All of us who are building applications now owe our souls to the company store.
--
Juan Lanus
TECNOSOL
Argentina

3 Mar 2006 - 10:52pm
John Vaughan - ...
2004

Greg Petroff said:
> I think you are right about your proposal. There are some other simple
> things that the org might want to investigate regarding ethics,
> competition
> for work etc...We currently do not have an ethics / policy committee but
> we should have one... feel free to contact me directly or shoot an email
> to our volunteer
> coordiantor at volunteers at ixda.org.

Louise Ferguson said:
> Here in the UK/Europe, we've been fighting the introduction of US-style
> patents, aware of the ridiculous situations this can lead to.
> And yes, designers and other professionals need to voice their concerns,
> or
> it will be assumed we don't have any.

Mostly I was just doing my whiney gadfly thing, but you folks have called my
bluff. From the volume (and the vigor) of the response to this topic, IxDA
should be able to do some good - assuming we actually make the effort.
Don't know what that is just yet, but I'm interested.

Louise, What's your take on the Gowers Review & Open Rights Group? I'm not
familiar with either. Perhaps they might offer models for waging this
effort in US and internationally...

Syndicate content Get the feed