Wednesday, March 26, 2008

SF Patent Auction Kind of a Big Deal

A San Francisco inventor's patent for "Global sideband service distributed computing method," (US Patent No. 6,418,642) is going up for auction next month and could potentially cause a big stir.

I'm going to admit from the outset that, technologically speaking, I have no idea what this patent is about. (If you're interested in the technical bits, I suggest you read the patent, which is required by definition to clearly explain the process in such a way that any person with reasonable knowledge in the field could understand it.)

What I do understand is controversy, and as a coworker at SFPL pointed out to me yesterday, this one has the Fark message boards pretty active.

As Reg Developer reports, the patent itself is for a computing process, commonly known as AJAX, by which data requests are managed by a server. The patent suggests that web applications such as Gmail, Google Maps, and Napster, may potentially infringe.

Who knows what comes next? One possibility is that a major company, say Google, will try to buy the patent and go after others who are already using the technology. It's certainly probable that this will end up in court. Companies that are already using this technology may argue that the technology is too obvious and the patent won't be enforceable. Who knows?

The auction takes place at the Ritz Carlton in SF on April 2nd. I'll keep my eyes peeled.

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