Douglas Crockford points out at the top of his blog that a patent was applied for in 2001 and awarded late last year covering using the <script> tag as a remote scripting transport.
Numerous people have “discovered” and exploited the value in using the script tag to get code and data on the fly since that time. It’s an obvious logical use of the functionality for which it was designed.
Of course, once a patent is granted, arguments about obviousness or originality can fall on deaf ears – the patent owner has the upper hand and it could cost you a lot to prove your case in court.
Beyond the obviousness, inspection of both the client and server side code for the patent reveals that most of it is copied directly from my JSRS library, published a year earlier, not only without attribution, but claiming it as their own “NetGratus Remote Scripting”. Of course, my license is very liberal, allowing reuse for pretty well anything, however it does say:
The only thing you can’t do is to restrict anyone else from using it however they see fit. You may not copyright it yourself or change the rules I have set on how it can be used.
So, if you’ve been asked to license this patented technology, I’d be happy to have a look at the particular code being offered for licensing and see whether it violates my copyright by restricting you from using it without a license.
Also, as Danne Lundqvist, veteran script tag advocate points out to the latest person who has independently had the script tag revelation, there are many reasons that the script tag is an inferior transport layer, not the least of which are the security implications as I pointed out just this week
The upshot is this: the script tag hack’s days are numbered. If you can change to XMLHttpRequest while waiting for JSONRequest, by all means do.
It’s rather ironic that the appearance of this patent will have had exactly the opposite effect that a patent should: Rather than the patent informing the world about a hitherto unknown invention, explaining its workings and contributing to the furtherance of knowledge, the patent in this case informs the masses of people who came up with the same obvious idea that they had better stop using this technique in order to reduce their liability regarding the injunctive power of the patent holder.