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Morfik Defends IP Rights Against Google 99

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the set-course-for-deep-pockets dept.
ReadWriteWeb writes "Today Morfik came out fighting in defense of its product JST (Javascript Synthesis Technology). Morfik has implied that Google infringed its IP by releasing Google Web Toolkit (GWT) a couple of weeks ago. The reason? GWT bore more than a casual resemblance to Morfik's JST, which allows developers to use a high-level language of choice and have it compiled to JavaScript. GWT is similar, being a Java-to-Javascript translator. These Javascript compiler products are increasingly necessary for companies like Google, with the high use of Ajax on today's Web and the associated complexity of programming in Javascript."
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Morfik Defends IP Rights Against Google

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  • Sure.. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by suv4x4 (956391) on Wednesday May 31, 2006 @05:54AM (#15433966)
    These Javascript compiler products are increasingly necessary for companies like Google, with the high use of Ajax on today's Web and the associated complexity of programming in Javascript.

    There's no associated complexity with programming in JavaScript. There's lack of progress in the language (still no native support of ECMA4 in browser, shame that *Flash* comes with ECMA4 implementation in just two months, before browsers do).

    JS synthesis is a hack anyway. I've seen the code produced by such technologies, and it's crap. You trust your application's well being to the compiler authors with the hope they update it when it breaks in the latest and greatest browser out there.

    The correct way to me is upgrading the JavaScript language itself, and until then, using native JS libraries that can be readily reviewed and edited.

    JS as a language isn't so primitive as to require a Java or C++ compiler to write good and clean code for it.
    • Re:Sure.. (Score:2, Troll)

      by MichaelSmith (789609)
      JS synthesis is a hack anyway. I've seen the code produced by such technologies, and it's crap. You trust your application's well being to the compiler authors with the hope they update it when it breaks in the latest and greatest browser out there.

      Which makes me wonder why google released the toolkit, given that it could help their competitors.

      Google are always on the lookout for sources of meta information about sites they search. Is it possible that the toolkit snaffles information from the compilation

      • Re:Sure.. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by suv4x4 (956391) on Wednesday May 31, 2006 @06:09AM (#15434005)
        Google are always on the lookout for sources of meta information about sites they search. Is it possible that the toolkit snaffles information from the compilation environment and builds it into the generated code?

        Where's your tinfoil hat :)

        If this was the case we'd know about it: the "compiled" code it pretty easy to open and read (even if it's still a JS spaghetti mess of a code). No info can be hidden inside.

        They do it for two reasons:

        1. PR: after few screw ups, like the google's China service, google's "omg ms doesn't put us default in ie7" rants and so on, they needed a bit of a good image in the community to restore they non-evil status

        2. they get thousands of free betatesters world-wide to help them point out flaws in their code, which then they'll use in THEIR OWN applications.
        • Re:Sure.. (Score:1, Interesting)

          by noamt (317240)
          If this was the case we'd know about it: the "compiled" code it pretty easy to open and read (even if it's still a JS spaghetti mess of a code). No info can be hidden inside.

          Ever heard of steganography [wikipedia.org]? I'm not saying they do it, but it absolutely can be done. For example, names of generated variables, functions, etc. can bear (encrypted) information.

          -Noam.
      • It would be possible, but it's not the case. The generated code is open for anyone to inspect, and there's nothing obviously fishy about it. Have a look yourself if you doubt it.
      • Re:Sure.. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by MoonBuggy (611105) on Wednesday May 31, 2006 @07:30AM (#15434187) Journal
        As the other two posters have said, it would be difficult for them to add anything dubious to human-readable code without them being noticed. What I do think, though, is that if Google releases the compiler it puts them in a much better position for reading information from the compiled code; they know (roughly) how the compiler is going to output most common operations and where within those the important information that the code is presenting to the user will lie. From this they can train googlebot to read GWT generated JS pages better than any other bots can read them, putting Google at a competetive advantage when it comes to searching AJAX pages.
      • Two quotes from Rob Pike [google.com]'s talk at usenix 2004 [usenix.net] during Q&A:

        We test at every level you can think of. Right up to the fault tolerance level. Right down code to the line of code level. We never do enough. We do it a lot. You can't make something reliable unless you have tested the crap out of it. On the other hand we have hundreds of millions of users that test it for us everyday. So a lot of our testing can be done by real time monitoring.... (around 1:00:30)

        ...I would sure like to see that happen. I kno

    • Re:Sure.. (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      If you've tried to do anything serious in JavaScript, I'm sure you've noticed that JavaScript implementations in browsers only do cooperative multitasking, and not in a nice way where you could return control to the scheduler in the middle of a task. The only way for a thread to relinquish control is to finish it. That means you can't do anything that takes longer than maybe a few seconds to compute. Waiting for the network is ok, because that's done in parallel, but once control is handed to your script, y
    • "JS synthesis is a hack anyway."

      Well, Javascript itself is a hack. So is Ajax, for that matter. It is an attempt to turn a client application designed to browse static web pages (remember those, from the dark ages of the 1990s?) into a dynamic client based web application, something it was never really meant to do.

      I find it ironic that normally scripting languages are considered high level languages that are easy to develop in, but with Javascript we actually have libraries that attempt to force code

    • There's no associated complexity with programming in JavaScript. There's lack of progress in the language (still no native support of ECMA4 in browser, shame that *Flash* comes with ECMA4 implementation in just two months, before browsers do).

      I disagree.

      Javascript is complex due to it's idiosynchroses due it's weird mix of functional LISP-like features and half-baked OO constructs (prototype) which means that (for instance) the "this" keyword has strange properties [quirksmode.org] which, although well-documentated, m

      • Re:Sure.. (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Curunir_wolf (588405)
        I'm a functional (Haskell, LISP) programmer as well as being well versed in OO (C++ & Java mainly) and I've just started my first AJAX project and I've hopped from IDE TO ide including plain vim, Eclipse with ADT & WDT, Mozilla with Venkman debugger and (gasp horror) Visual Studio 2005 and I still find it harder than anything else I've done in terms of code-navigation and debugging

        Word.

        There just *is no* decent environment for doing this kind of stuff (Ajax/DOM). I was actually impressed with V

      • All you said has been fixed in ECMA4. JS is just very old. We need to update it, not hack it.

        Godo thing at least Flash 9 got the right idea.
    • Have you looked at Script#, a prototype C# to Javascript compiler/translater?
      Compared to GWT, the generated code is beautiful...

      http://www.nikhilk.net/Entry.aspx?id=121 [nikhilk.net]
    • JS as a language isn't so primitive as to require a Java or C++ compiler to write good and clean code for it.

      It's not about how primitive JS is; it's about people wanting to write object-oriented code. Object orientation in JavaScript leaves a lot to be desired. For proof: I suggest you take a look at 99.9% of JavaScript libraries, which extend the JavaScript language to make it seem more OO.

  • Ownership? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by paulthomas (685756) * on Wednesday May 31, 2006 @05:54AM (#15433970) Journal
    They "own" the innovation? Some people have a really distorted view of the intent and philosophy of so-called Intellectual Property. As Thomas Jefferson so nicely put it: "He who receives an idea from me, receives instruction himself without lessening mine; as he who lites his taper at mine, receives light without darkening me."

    If they think that Google could have actually copied their idea in such a short time, then they are admitting that they had no competitive advantage outside the recourse of litigation. More likely, they developed it concurrently. Google has been making fat web pages as they call them for some time now and I imagine that GWT started as a tool for inhouse projects.
    • Re:Ownership? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by suv4x4 (956391) on Wednesday May 31, 2006 @06:03AM (#15433990)
      They "own" the innovation? Some people have a really distorted view of the intent and philosophy of so-called Intellectual Property.

      You can imagine how it went: google released the kit, Morfik read up on it, and realizsed he's screwed, so he went "legal" on the matter.

      Risk is part of the business. It sure took a lot of time to develop his JS synthesis compilers, and it's terribly frustrating to see a competitor release a free alternative.

      But here's the thing: if the most valuable thing in your product is an "idea" (the idea of roughly translating languages in JS spaghetti code) instead of the product itself, you'll be screwed sooner or later anyways.

      Synthesis is a bridge for C++/Java/C# developers to get coding without learning the technology around "AJAX". It has no value to someone experienced in AJAX.

      All of it: classes, typing, interfaces: it's all fake, and impossible to enforce in the runtime, since the runtime doesn't support it (save me the crap about Turing complete since I'm talking practical speed of execution here). So if the compiler doesn't catch it, you're basically screwed.
      • Re:Ownership? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by paulthomas (685756) * on Wednesday May 31, 2006 @06:10AM (#15434009) Journal
        I had a similar experience not too long ago when I realized that a web app I had spent nearly a year working on (when I should have been releasing early and often) was over taken by what is now a very prominent service.

        In my case though, after reading through my business plan a few times in denial, I came to the realization that I had accomplished a lot and learned a lot but that was all. There's always next time or the time after that.

        If I would have wasted any more energy on it I would be in a much worse situation today.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      As Thomas Jefferson so nicely put it: "He who receives an idea from me, receives instruction himself without lessening mine; as he who lites his taper at mine, receives light without darkening me."

      In the letter of 1813 where this passage appears, Jefferson expresses some skepticism about the general utility of patents:

      "Accordingly, it is a fact, as far as I am informed, that England was, until we copied her, the only country on earth which ever, by a general law, gave a legal right to the exclusive use of a
    • And from the post: Today Morfik came out fighting in defense of its product JST (Javascript Synthesis Technology).

      I like how they say Morfik is 'defending' its product when they are the ones suing. The wording is meant to evoke sympathy for Morfik.

  • "high-level language of choice and have it compiled to JavaScript"

    Sounds like a pretty ambitions brief given the limitations
    of javascript. Presumably you'd be very limited in what you
    can do in the other language , for example I doubt some C++
    database code would be cross-compiled successfully! Is it
    meant just for people who only know VBscript or similar or
    have they really tried to make it work with serious non-scripting
    languages?
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Which limitations? JavaScript is not only turing-complete, but also a very powerful language. It would be much more difficult to compile JavaScript code down to Java than vice versa.
      • JavaScript is not only turing-complete, but also a very powerful language.

        OMG it's turing-complete! Let's use it to render 3D movies!

        This is the most tired and misunderstood argument to use: any general purpose modern language is turing-complete.

        Let's patch our way by abusing the fact it's turing-complete! Runtime features don't matter! Filesize don't matter and the fact you may need a super-computer don't matter too!
    • Well if you want to be technical about it, a JavaScript app can do anything an app in Java (or C++ or any other language) can do. In fact, it would be pretty easy, anytime it is supposed to do something in the second language, it sends an HTTP request to the server with the function it wants to execute and have it return the result in the response.

      Now that being said, that would be a very bad design. Aside from the fact that it would have horrible performance from all the requests that are sent to the p

  • by Vo0k (760020) on Wednesday May 31, 2006 @06:01AM (#15433989) Journal
    The idea of language translators is as old as mountains. Translating from Fortran to Pascal, from C to Assembly, from C++ or Perl to C, from Csh to Bash, from Awk to Perl. What's so new about Java to Javascript translator? The fact that the guys wrote another "to javascript" translator?
  • by pedantic bore (740196) on Wednesday May 31, 2006 @06:09AM (#15434004)
    There's nothing substantive in TFA. There's nothing to do but speculate at this point.

    I doubt that any company would go to court to defend a claim that they own programming language-to-language translation. If they are, then they'll lose or have the case tossed out.

    More likely is that someone at Morfik looked at the output from the google toolkit and noticed that it was suspiciously similar to the output from their own ("we never got the parens to line up properly for a nested if and google's compiler messes up in exactly the same way... hmmm" -- or something like that).

    Of course, this is just speculation. Still waiting for something resembling facts...

    • There's nothing substantive in TFA. There's nothing to do but speculate at this point.

      On behalf of us all, I'd like to welcome you to Slashdot! Be sure to point out the lack of substance in TFA in the rousing discussion that will follow Taco's posting of this article tomorrow.

  • by SomPost (873537) on Wednesday May 31, 2006 @06:11AM (#15434012) Homepage

    I know of several Highlevel-to-Lowlevel language translators (e.g. Java-toC [arizona.edu], Oberon-to-C [uni-kl.de], you name it) that have been around for decades. Surely, you cannot get a patent for doing the same thing with a different language, can you. Can you?!?

    Compiling something to JavaScript in the browser environment is about as obvious as compiling to C on Unix. Case in point, here are a few other X-to-JavaScript compilers pulled off the top of my head: Python [jtauber.com], Prolog [ioctl.org], Oberon [microsoft.com], etc. Seems pretty obvious to me. Not that that has ever prevented the US Patent Office from granting a patent, of course.

  • Well done. (Score:5, Funny)

    by gowen (141411) <gwowen@gmail.com> on Wednesday May 31, 2006 @06:12AM (#15434014) Homepage Journal
    Morfik's founders identified JavaScript as the limiting factor in the development of complex interactive Web-based software applications and decided to develop some proof-of-concept prototypes for the translation of a high-level language to JavaScript.
    Congratulations, you've invented a programming language translator. I mean re-invented [program-tr...mation.org], obviously.

    Can I suggest you invent a C-code to machine-code translator next (you could call it a "compiler"). It's the obvious next step in this genius innovation.
  • by Aceticon (140883) on Wednesday May 31, 2006 @06:28AM (#15434052)
    The Struts framework (Struts, not Structs) used in the Java/J2EE world already does some JavaScript generation for client-side validation of form input for a couple of years now.

    The truth is, the solution that Morfik came up with is actually one of the two most obvious (to any software designer level IT professional that has done any significat amount of web-interface software design and programming) solutions for the "JavaScript libraries are not 100% standard and the language (the official name is ECMAScript) is bug-prone" problem. The solutions being:
    1. Code generation (either based in another language - best candidate being Java - or in configuration files)
    2. Good JavaScript libraries and frameworks, possibly including some level of type checking of parameters


    Given the state of the USPTO i wouldn't be surprised in somebody already patented both "inovations"...
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Non-Karma Whoring link post for those who don't know :

      The OP is referring to Jakarta Struts by the Apache Group, http://struts.apache.org/ [apache.org]
    • by Panaflex (13191)
      Eight years ago I attended a web conference (at the Infomart in Dallas) about a company that developed a "dual interface" IDE for Java. It let you deploy to traditional GUI clients and web clients. Of course, everybody hated Swing (Or was it AWT at the time.. not sure) but the jist of this is...

      They did generate Javascript code from your Java code.

      Not 100% directly - but it was there for special cases.

      Anyway, it's a lame technology anyway - it seems more akin to a "meta" language and won't buy most people
    • ASP has generated client-specific JavaScript (er, ECMAScript) for form validation for years. I'm not sure when the JavaScript generation feature was introduced, but ASP was first shipped in 1996.
  • NOn should be able to claim IP on that tecnology.
    JST technology (as well as any other similar one) resembles very closely to ... compilers [wikipedia.org]!!!
    You write down source code in a high level language like C++ and you get it translated into another target language like machine code.
    The "other" language needs not to be at a lower level. You can translate from Fortran or LISP to C as well.
    I'd like to see these stupid claims stop once and forever. Companies should focus more on business, research and, most importa
  • What is "IP"? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Steeltoe (98226) on Wednesday May 31, 2006 @07:09AM (#15434137) Homepage
    Are they meaning patents, copyright or trademark?

    Seems this case is either a patent or copyright-issue, but by not stating what "IP" has been violated, TFA is totally meaningless and open for speculation and confusion of the worst sort.

    There is in reality nothing called "Intellectual Property".
    • There is in reality nothing called "Intellectual Property".

      There is, in reality, something called "Intellectual Property".

      Its a subset of "Intangible Personal Property", itself a subset of "Property".

      Similarly, there is a thing called "Property", even though actual property interests are governed by distinct (but sometimes overlapping) sets of case and statute law depending on whether the "property" involved is "real property", "tangible personal property", "intangible personal property", and even more spec

      • There is, in reality, something called "Intellectual Property".

        The question is whether "intellectual property" is a useful abstraction over copyright law, patent law, trademark law, trade secret law, and publicity law. What is the term of protection of "intellectual property"? And especially for The Article, does a finding of infringement of "intellectual property" require access to the original work? Unlike mentioning a specific law (patent, copyright, or trade secret), "intellectual property" tells no

  • by Richard W.M. Jones (591125) <rich@ a n n e x i a . org> on Wednesday May 31, 2006 @07:11AM (#15434143) Homepage
    Seems that Javascript generation is quite common. Here's another Javascript-targeting compiler that I came across:

    http://haxe.org/intro [haxe.org]

    Rich.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 31, 2006 @07:17AM (#15434158)
    Ok, is this IP infringement? Nobody knows!

    Did Google had a close look at Morfik's technology? Yes!

    Does GWT looks a lot like what Morfik has done? Having used Morfik WebOS ApsBuilder for a couple of months, and given the GWT demos and description: definitely YES!

    And please keep in mind Morfik's tool has A LOT more nice things! It is like Visual Studio and like Borland Delphi but for the Web, i.e. true RAD development invironment! And yes, it supports not just Java, but c#, Pascal and VB. It can target both Linux and Windows WebServers. Go see yoursef!

    Sto
    • Morfik's HR needs a tighter screening process
    • ... and you point is?

      Morfik is screwed. Cross-compilers are as old as the industry itself. Heck, one of the examples you cited (Delphi) was implemented as a cross-compiler (pascal to c).

    • > Did Google had a close look at Morfik's technology? Yes!

      Can you substantiate that statement?

      You obviously have some sort of stake in Morfik, so you might want to exercise some judgement when making specific claims about this.
    • Did you RTFA? Nowhere does the author state explicitly anywhere that Google saw or requested internal demos of Morfik's product. From TFA:

      The press release seems to imply that Google may've infringed on Morfik's IP. (emphasis mine)

      Where in that statement does it actually say that Google definitively saw confidential Morfik WebOS demos? Further, from the press release quoted in TFA:

      In October 2005 Morfik's JST was featured at the Web 2.0 Conference in San Francisco, California and immediately attr

    • But his sole argument is that it "Looks" like his product. Yes, he patented some idea's on it but they have already been used in older technologies.

      IT sounds similiar to me to the SCO Unix case. See Linux also has AWK! THey look identical!

  • by ifdev (973484)
    .. they needed a free advertisment on major news source..

    1. Come up with a general (and funny) claim..
    2. Attack Google
    3. Profit!
  • ..they should take it out on the street [slashdot.org].
  • It's interesting to see people coming out against the little guy in this. After all, often the argument is bandied about that IP laws are overextended and misused, yet this IS the way IP legislation is supposed to be used (protecting the little fish from steamrollering by the big fish), and clearly even this use in exactly the manner it's intended is completely farcical.

    So rather than this being a frivolous suit brought to bear (if it is ever brought to bear, see the point about how this suit might not even
    • I don't think people here are coming out against the little guy, they're more coming out against obvious misuse of the IP laws. The difference here is that this time it's the little guy trying to misuse the IP laws. That doesn't make it a legitimate use.

      If people were just wanting to be mean, they'd be talking about how stupid he looks or something else just as pointless.

      Instead, we have most people pointing out that what this guy claims IP is completely bogus. He shouldn't have even started out with the
  • Ever use their web builder? It's crappy and unintuitive. I can't describe it except to say that this is the most likely way that they are going to see any real money from that product as is.
  • Do Some Research (Score:3, Insightful)

    by MikeyTheK (873329) on Wednesday May 31, 2006 @08:40AM (#15434447)
    Well, it's good that many of you are so predictable. You have once again commented on something that you haven't even done the most basic research on in order to get a post listed sooner and mod-troll. So here goes: 1) Morfik is an IDE/RAD tool with a built-in PDF report writer, built-in web server (Apache) and built-in database (Firebird). The other tools to this point don't have any of these features. 2) Morfik allows you to write the code of your application using Java, C#, BASIC, or Object Pascal (client side or server side). You can also mix and match syntaxes to achieve whatever your goal is. It supports state-control, including the forward, back, and reload buttons, bookmarking, etc. so it doesn't break the functionality of your browser. GWT has Java support, and I believe supports state control, but I don't believe does it natively with a database, but I've only been playing with GWT since the public release, so I'm not 100% on this. 3) When Morfik was first featured on Slashdot [slashdot.org] a mere six months ago, it was met with skepticism and rancor. Now that Google has released GWT the /. tide has turned - apparently now that someone else has released a tool with a subset of the same features, it's obvious and uninteresting. Which is it? What a difference six months makes. 4) The issue isn't the release date of GWT vs. when they got a gander at Morfik. The issue is the start date of work on GWT, or Atlas, or whatever tool you're worried about vs. the date of the Patent application that everyone is complaining about, and the dates of the relevant documents that are cited in the application. Has anybody bothered to look either one up yet? Let's hypothetically say that the patent application was dated in March 2004. Now what? What about how all of this relates to Microsoft's progress on Atlas, or any of the other tools that are suddenly in development to build AJAX apps? 5) I don't see any of you asking what the relevant portions of the patent application are compared to the relevant features of GWT. Aren't these last two questions the ones that are really going to matter?
    • +1, Condescending
    • First, can anyone even find the patent application [pathf.com]?

      Second, I've used Morfik WebOS ApplicationBuilder (did I get the caps right? ;-) for some evaluation POC's and have some familiarity with it. Can't say I'm a big fan of it's kludgy IDE interface. Right click doesn't bring up anything useful so you're making trips to the top menu bar all the time. Hopefully, they'll clean it up soon.

      It (Morfik) also isn't the sort of thing you'd want to write a little sidebar widget in, which is about all GWT seems to be

  • The only indication in TFA about what specific "IP rights" are allegedly being violated is Morfik's pending patent on JST ("Javascript Synthesis Technology").

    What, now you can assert patents that haven't even been granted yet?! What if the patent application is denied?

    BTW, I have a pending patent on replying to comments on Slashdot. You all owe me $100 per comment. BTW, I'm going to vigorously defend my intellectual property by hiring two goons named Victor and Anthony to collect my license fees. Have a
  • It turns out there is a patent pending on Morfik's JST and today they issued a press release in defence of it.

    Are we now going to see a series of patents on "translating language X into language Y" for all combinations of X and Y? Morfik's patent should be rejected, and it's a shame that the company can't be punished severely for even attempting to file such a patent.

    In addition, Morfik's claims should be clearly recognized by everybody for what they are: an attempt to create far reaching new rights that
  • I think the point here is being missed.

    AJAX (its no longer a buzzword people, its essentially now in the vernacular) is still very new and on wobbly legs, but there's no denying the doors it has already opened. We're only just beginning to get a glimpse of the lands these doors lead to.

    Here's a small company from the smallest, most remote state of Australia made up of a handful of developers and associated staff, and look at who appears to be sampling their wares? This is a David and Goliath situation,

  • Surely this must be more than just a language translator. Translation of a high level language to another language prior to compilation has been around for decades. Back in 1970 I wrote a program in DEC Fortran for a PDP-8 - and the steps to turn it into a running program turned it into assembly first, and then finally binary. Other such translators include the first C++ compilers that were really C++ to C translators, and of course for many years now FORTRAN compilers like F2C are really translators.

    If thi
  • http://www.cliki.net/Parenscript [cliki.net] http://www.cliki.net/jsgen [cliki.net] looks like parenscript was there before october 2005
  • The NeWS [wikipedia.org] window system was programmed in PostScript, and was the original "AJAXian" window system, except that it used PostScript instead of JavaScript, PostScript instead of XML, and PostScript instead of DHTML, so it was much more consistent and vastly better designed than JavaScript and AJAX.

    Some people didn't prefer programming directly in PostScript, so there were several projects to compile high level languages into PostScript code for NeWS:

    In 1987, Dave Singer at Schlumberger wrote LispScript [google.com],

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