Morfik defends its IP rights against Google

A couple of weeks ago Google released its Google Web Toolkit (GWT) and almost immediately there were rumors of an alliance between Google and Morfik, the Web OS vendor which has a Javascript converter as one of its main products. The reason?

A couple of weeks ago Google released its Google Web Toolkit (GWT) and almost immediately there were rumors of an alliance between Google and Morfik, the Web OS vendor which has a Javascript converter as one of its main products. The reason? GWT bore more than a casual resemblance to Morfik.

GWT is basically a The press release seems to imply that Google may've infringed on Morfik's IP. Java-to-Javascript translator. Programmers can write their front end in the Java programming language and the GWT compiler converts the Java classes "to browser-compliant JavaScript and HTML". Morfik has a similar product called JST (Javascript Synthesis Technology), which was shown off at the last Web 2.0 Conference in October 2005. It turns out there is a patent pending on Morfik's JST and today they issued a press release in defence of it. In the press release they describe JST as follows: "JST allows developers to use a high-level language of choice and have it compiled directly and seamlessly to JavaScript."

What triggered this press release appears to be the release of GWT a couple of weeks ago. At that time rumors of a partnership between Google and Morfik proved to be false. The press release seems to imply that Google may've infringed on Morfik's IP. Currently I don't have a URL for this press release, so I'm going to re-print the guts of it here:

"Morfik Will Pursue all Avenues to Protect its IP Rights

Recent recognition of the value of mapping a high-level language to JavaScript by key stalwarts of the AJAX world has confirmed the viability and strategic importance of Morfik Technology Pty Ltd's many years of pioneering work in this area. Morfik's vision of "browser as computing platform" embodied by its JavaScript Synthesis Technology, "JST" (Patent Pending) is now gaining mainstream acceptance.

"Morfik believes in this paradigm and has invested millions of dollars over the course of many man-years in developing this technology." said Aram Mirkazemi, co-founder and CEO of Morfik.

"For some time now, Morfik has been recognized both in the industry and in the press for having conceived of and developed something that is truly inspirational. Morfik has been working on this technology for a long time. We are helping Morfik in pursuing all appropriate forms of intellectual property protection in connection with this technology and invention." said Tim Hale of Russo & Hale LLP of Palo Alto, California, one of Morfik's intellectual property attorneys.

Some time ago 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. The success of the proof-of-concept resulted in the establishment of Morfik as a company in the year 2000 and the further development of JST. JST allows developers to use a high-level language of choice and have it compiled directly and seamlessly to JavaScript. Morfik spent the ensuing years building a state-of-the-art Rapid Application Development tool to make JST accessible to small businesses.

In October 2005 Morfik's JST was featured at the Web 2.0 Conference in San Francisco, California and immediately attracted the attention of leading search engine providers and software development organizations, including founders and top officers from some very large companies. In a number of instances, persons recognizing the potential in the JST innovation and its implications for their own organization's applications requested special more detailed presentations to their engineers or gained access to additional confidential information about JST.

Morfik as the owner of this ground-breaking innovation and technology is committed to protecting all of its rights, working closely with interested organizations to share its learning and innovations related to JST and to enter into appropriate licensing arrangements with such organizations to govern their use of JST."

Notice the second-to-last paragraph in particular: Morfik's JST "attracted the attention of leading search engine providers and software development organizations, including founders and top officers from some very large companies." While Morfik is very careful not to name names, my understanding is that Google was one of those companies shown the JST technology at the 2005 Web 2.0 Conference. Not just any Google employees either, but some very high-ranking Google executives.

With the release of GWT, it seems Morfik has seen too much crossover with their own JST product - hence Morfik's desire to "defend its IP". It's important to note that I have no actual knowledge of whether Google copied Morfik's technology, I'm just reading between the lines of Morfik's press release.

But if it's true that Google used Morfik's JST as a basis for GWT, then what does this say about Bret Taylor's statement immediately after the Morfik alliance rumors surfaced a couple of weeks ago? Taylor is Product Manager of Google Web Toolkit and he wrote at that time on a Google Groups list:

"Morfik seems like great technology, but Google Web Toolkit is in no way associated with Morfik or based on its technology. There have been some rumors circulating on this list that have been causing some confusion, and I wanted to clarify."

That was a couple of weeks ago, well before today's press release. I await with interest Google's response to Morfik's press release.

I'll write a follow-up post shortly about the reasons why Google needs a Javascript compiler - and why I believe Microsoft will soon follow with their own similar product.

Update: My follow-up post is now online, entitled Why Google and Microsoft need Javascript compilers.

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