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Just as the Web 2.0 crowd gets excited over AJAX (Asynchronous JavaScript and XML), an unknown web developer tools company is threatening to spoil the party.

The US Patent and Trade Mark Office (USPTO) has awarded Balthaser Online a patent covering "methods, systems and processes for the design and creation of rich-media applications via the internet". Quite a broad award.

And West Coast-based Balthaser is ready to charge for use of its newly awarded patent, which "provides significant licensing opportunities".

According to Balthaser, its patent covers all rich media technology implementations including Adobe/Macromedia's Flash and Flex, Sun Microsystems' Java, the community-developed AJAX and XAML, and all device footprints which access "rich-media internet applications", including desktops, mobile devices, set-top-boxes and video game consoles.

"Balthaser will be able to provide licenses for almost any rich-media internet application across a broad range of devices and networks," Neil Balthaser, chief executive and chairman, said.

Details of the patent can be found here.

News of the award come as Microsoft, Google and others are investing in rich internet services delivered through a range of PC, games and handheld devices. Microsoft has, for example, begun using AJAX in its Windows Live Mail services to emulate Google's Gmail. Google has countered with the AJAX-based Google Page Creator, a challenger to Microsoft's web page creation tools.

Attempts to lock-down or monetize internet and rich-media patents are nothing new. Examples include BT, with its failed hyperlink patent, and Eolas Technologies, which successfully ambushed Microsoft over plug-ins for Internet Explorer. ®

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