MPEG LA starts digging patent pool under Google's WebM

Posted:
in Mac Software edited January 2014
Google's efforts to create a royalty-free video codec for the web are now being actively undermined by the MPEG Licensing Authority, which has announced plans to represent patent holders who claim infringement.



A report by Florian Mueller of FOSS Patents notes the MPEG LA has announced plans to put "Google's WebM video format VP8 under patent scrutiny."



The group, which represents a large number patent holders who have collectively pooled their intellectual property to develop interoperability standards for multimedia, has announced "a call for patents essential to the VP8 codec specification" as the first step in creating a patent pool to collect royalties from users of Google's WebM.



The MPEG LA announcement states that "any party that believes it has patents that are essential to the VP8 video codec specification is invited to submit them for a determination of their essentiality by MPEG LA?s patent evaluators."



Essentially patented



Mueller wrote, "since I'm against software patents, I'd be happy to see a patent-free video codec put competitive pressure on dozens of major patent holders. But I make a clear distinction between what I'd like to see happen and what I consider realistic."



He explained that "MPEG LA's patent evaluators (legal and technical experts) will analyze all of the submitted patents to determine their 'essentiality.' In any standardization process, an 'essential' patent is understood to be required for an implementation of the standard in question, as opposed to patents that may be somewhat related to it but not absolutely necessary."



The MPEG LA says "at least one essential patent is necessary to participate in the process, and initial submissions should be made by March 18, 2011. Although only issued patents will be included in the license, in order to participate in the license development process, patent applications with claims that their owners believe are essential to the specification and likely to issue in a patent also may be submitted."



Clearly know what they're doing



Google has said it believes WebM is not "patent encumbered," but is not willing to indemnify its users if they are sued by other patent holders. Once the MPEG LA examines the patents of holders who believe their patents do indeed encumber Google's future plans for free distribution of WebM, all the patent holders involved will negotiate to set the terms for sharing the royalties that will be collected based on the relative value of each stakeholder's intellectual property.



The MPEG LA would then approach WebM users and ask for royalty payments, a move that would force Google, Mozilla and other users of WebM to fight each of the patent claims in court to seek to overturn each as invalid or to prove that there is no infringement. "Depending on the size and quality of the pool, that can be a formidable or practically insurmountable challenge," Mueller wrote.



"I want to be frank," Mueller concluded. "Despite my dislike for software patents, if I had to bet money, I would bet it on MPEG LA, not on Google. MPEG LA has a pretty strong track record in codec patent licensing. One may or may not like their business model, but they clearly know what they're doing. By contrast, Google's flagship open source project, Android, has turned out to be a patent suit magnet."



The industry in MPEG LA vs Google



Apple supports H.264 because it allows the company to deliver video products without facing patent uncertainties. The company is also a stakeholder in the MPEG LA patent pool for H.264, which VP8 and other codecs originally developed by On2 appear to be based on. However, Apple is known to be a minority player in the patent pool, having contributed elements that apparently involved relinquishing royalty demands, such as the MPEG4 container format based on the original QuickTime's container.



Even Microsoft, which has a large patent portfolio related to video technologies based on its work to develop Window Media and the VC-1 codec, has publicly stated that income from its share of H.264 licensing royalties is about half what it actually contributes back as a user of the technology.



Most commercial companies have no problem paying the licensing fees related to H.264, but the fees are more difficult for open source projects such as Mozilla, which would also prefer to use unrestricted open codecs compatible with its mission to provide free software.



Google, while facing no difficulty in paying for H.264 licensing, would similarly prefer to be able to distribute its free software, including Chrome OS, without having to pay for the use of commercial codecs. Google also pays for the use of H.264 on YouTube.



Last month, Google attempted to push adoption of WebM by announcing that it would disable support for H.264 in its Chrome browser, a move that suggested the firm may also turn off support for H.264 on YouTube at some point, which would render the site inaccessible from Apple's iOS devices and most other mobile products.



We're hoping things will just work out



In a statement published by The Register, a Google spokesperson wrote that "the vast majority of the industry supports free and open development, and we?re in the process of forming a broad coalition of hardware and software companies who commit to not assert any IP claims against WebM. We are firmly committed to the project and establishing an open codec for HTML5 video.?



The site noted that Google's WebM license "says that if you use the technology, you can't make patent claims against it," but patent holders who believe that WebM incorporates their technology are unlikely to either use WebM or be swayed by the commitments of other companies who chose not to assert their patents against it.



Google has similarly shrugged off claims that its free Android operating system may be infringing the patents and other intellectual property of Oracle, following its development as a Java-like platform. Google resolved its largest patent infringement case, involving Yahoo and its acquired Overture subsidiary, by simply granting its competitor a large amount of stock.



Other companies in the industry are more wary of patent issues, the foremost being Apple, which is said to be the world's most frequently sued company on earth in the realm of patent suits.

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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 174
    And so it begins.
  • Reply 2 of 174
    As much as it would have been an instinctive move Nokia was smart not to have anything to do with Google. Symbian and Google was the burning platform and Microsoft was the icy sea. Nokia jumped into the sea.
  • Reply 3 of 174
    Google is more and more becoming such a fraud.
  • Reply 4 of 174
    One funny angle of all of this is that Google is a American company infringing on patents from and destroying other american companies. That seems defendable, while when Chinese companies does the same, they should rotten in hell.



    The participants in these discussion sometimes are just too funny to watch while they try to figure out how to deal with this. Patents or not? Should inventors earn money? Should creative people have the right to be rich? Or should the lazy ones just be able to steal and use for free?



    I just can't wait too see how this goes down. The odds are not on Googles side I think. IF it were, I think America should think again. At least twice.
  • Reply 5 of 174
    When MPEG-LA decides they want to increase revenues in a few years by increasing fees for H.264, I'm sure you'll see them begin suing all sorts of people.



    The organization is basically designed to aggressively sue anyone who comes close to infringing their "intellectual property". Humorous that anyone remotely coming close to accusing Apple of intellectual property theft gets eviscerated as just being a greedy lawyer, but when the same happens to Google, everyone sides with the lawyers and patent trolls.



    I bet if Terry Jones declared international "cancel your gmail account day", he would be given a job as a writer on AI...
  • Reply 6 of 174
    This quote jumps out at you:



    Quote:

    "I want to be frank," Mueller concluded. "Despite my dislike for software patents, if I had to bet money, I would bet it on MPEG LA, not on Google. MPEG LA has a pretty strong track record in codec patent licensing. One may or may not like their business model, but they clearly know what they're doing. By contrast, Google's flagship open source project, Android, has turned out to be a patent suit magnet."



  • Reply 7 of 174
    case in point of how there should be no such thing as software patents. They do nothing but stifle innovation and destroy competition.
  • Reply 8 of 174
    realisticrealistic Posts: 1,139member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by bullhead View Post


    case in point of how there should be no such thing as software patents. They do nothing but stifle innovation and destroy competition.



    What planet are you from? If software patents were not allowed why would anyone spend time and money developing software if anyone could then just basically copy, steal and call it their own? If a company or person can't make a profit writing software then obviously they won't even bother to try.
  • Reply 9 of 174
    sambansamban Posts: 171member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Realistic View Post


    What planet are you from? If software patents were not allowed why would anyone spend time and money developing software if anyone could then just basically copy, steal and call it their own? If a company or person can't make a profit writing software then obviously they won't even bother to try.



    Andriod is such a open OS . If, software patent is wrong then every other patent including pharmaceuticals etc.., Google should make an andriod pill also.
  • Reply 10 of 174
    slurpyslurpy Posts: 5,142member
    Google has been ridiculously irresponsible with this whole WebM thing, such a cynical move. It's clear the decision had nothing to do with 'openness' but instead an effort to undermine Apple, by undermining the H.264 standard and trying to torpedo its chances of becoming ubiquitous, and in the process making the lives of consumers more difficult.



    These days, most of Google's decisions seem made to harm Apple, more than to make a good product or help the industry and consumers.
  • Reply 11 of 174
    sambansamban Posts: 171member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Slurpy View Post


    Google has been ridiculously irresponsible with this whole WebM thing, such a cynical move. It's clear the decision had nothing to do with 'openness' but instead an effort to undermine Apple, by undermining the H.264 standard and trying to torpedo its chances of becoming ubiquitous, and in the process making the lives of consumers more difficult.



    These days, most of Google's decisions seem made to harm Apple, more than to make a good product or help the industry and consumers.



    It's time Apple brings the war to google own land where it's only their blood.



    Googles strengths are search, maps & video and using andriod to deliver the Ads into the hands.



    First they need to take out the maps, coupled with a device which is cheap enough to hook people into apple subsystem. Then they push a Google competitor like Facebook against it like a video service or such. And this will be the killer make iAds such that it is without a cut to developer and make it available to all platforms. This will opposite to google which made the platform free and ads paid, make the platform paid & ads free.
  • Reply 12 of 174
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Realistic View Post


    What planet are you from? If software patents were not allowed why would anyone spend time and money developing software if anyone could then just basically copy, steal and call it their own? If a company or person can't make a profit writing software then obviously they won't even bother to try.



    I know this is well beyond the comprehension of the drones on this board, but imagine if mathematic formulas were patentable. We would still be living in caves. Ever hear of trademarks and copyrights? And not everyones motive are based purely on greed.



    educate yourself before you speak. I know that is asking a lot in the age of Faux News.



    http://techcrunch.com/2010/08/07/why...tware-patents/

    http://www.jerf.org/writings/communi...ics/node6.html
  • Reply 13 of 174
    hill60hill60 Posts: 6,989member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by bullhead View Post


    I know this is well beyond the comprehension of the drones on this board, but imagine if mathematic formulas were patentable. We would still be living in caves. Ever hear of trademarks and copyrights? And not everyones motive are based purely on greed.



    educate yourself before you speak. I know that is asking a lot in the age of Faux News.



    http://techcrunch.com/2010/08/07/why...tware-patents/

    http://www.jerf.org/writings/communi...ics/node6.html



    Imagine if Google accused Bing of copying their search results derived using mathematical formulae known as algorithms...



    ...oh, hang on they did, then whined about it all over the Internet.



    Bunch of hypocrites, Google want to run roughshod over everyone else's IP, taking and adapting whatever they want but the first sign of it happening to them and they chuck a tantrum.
  • Reply 14 of 174
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by hill60 View Post


    Imagine if Google accused Bing of copying their search results using mathematical formulae known as algorithms...



    ...oh, hang on they did, then whined about it all over the Internet.



    Bunch of hypocrites, they want to run roughshod over everyone else's IP, taking and adapting whatever they want but the first sign of it happening to them and they chuck a tantrum.



    do you have some specifics on the patents vp8 is using? You are saying they are
    Quote:

    ...taking and adapting..



    . Or are you talking out of your back side?
  • Reply 15 of 174
    hill60hill60 Posts: 6,989member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by bullhead View Post


    do you have some specifics on the patents vp8 is using? You are saying they are . Or are you talking out of your back side?



    I'll leave that to Oracle (Java), the world's writers (Google scanning books project), people with unprotected wifi (streetview privacy invasion) and of course MPEG-LA (among others) to sort out, seeing as I am no more than a "drone"



    Meanwhile in light of your comments regarding mathematical formulae, you want to justify why Google should protect their search algorithms, you know seeing as how they are so "open" and all.



    Drones = bees = attracted to honeycomb.
  • Reply 16 of 174
    jragostajragosta Posts: 10,473member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


    In a statement published by The Register, a Google spokesperson wrote that "the vast majority of the industry supports free and open development,



    Google is full of it.



    Open Source software makes up only a tiny fraction of the software in use out there. Windows? Mac OS X? Microsoft Office? Photoshop? Any of the 10,000 games in use? Quickbooks? And so on, ad nauseum.



    Open Source software is a very minor component of the software industry.
  • Reply 17 of 174
    MacProMacPro Posts: 18,218member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by bullhead View Post


    case in point of how there should be no such thing as software patents. They do nothing but stifle innovation and destroy competition.



    Why would there be any innovation if the results were not able to be protected from the likes of Google and Microsoft who would simply reverse engineer everything and steal them. Heck even with patents Microsoft reverse engineered Mac OS and Quicktime for their own use. Both cases proved in court btw before anyone argues ... and settled between Apple and MS thanks to patents.



    Patent trolls and the East Texas courts give patents a bad name but we should not lose sight of the legitimate rights of inventors to protect their IP.
  • Reply 18 of 174
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by bullhead View Post


    case in point of how there should be no such thing as software patents. They do nothing but stifle innovation and destroy competition.



    You're deluded. These software patents interact with the hardware.
  • Reply 19 of 174
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by bullhead View Post


    I know this is well beyond the comprehension of the drones on this board, but imagine if mathematic formulas were patentable. We would still be living in caves. Ever hear of trademarks and copyrights? And not everyones motive are based purely on greed.



    educate yourself before you speak. I know that is asking a lot in the age of Faux News.



    http://techcrunch.com/2010/08/07/why...tware-patents/

    http://www.jerf.org/writings/communi...ics/node6.html



    Implementations of Theoretical and Applied Mathematics goes back to Archimedes to build apparatuses to wage War.



    They gave their civilization a lead on other warring nations.



    Implementations today bring the world technological advancement with it's applications to the macro and micro worlds. The incentive nature of a unique implementation is the spark that drives competition.



    When the entire Globe is ready to become Star Trek then yes, Patents will become irrelevant.
  • Reply 20 of 174
    tbelltbell Posts: 3,146member
    The problem is in practice this argument doesn't bear fruition. Look at the fashion industry, where the Supreme Court strangely enough said the creative endeavors of fashion designers aren't protected by intellectual property laws. Yet, it is a multi-billion dollar industry with new players emerging all the time. Very competitive.



    The reality is software is protected by both copyright, which protection lasts over a hundred years, and patent law, where patents last 14 years. I don't have as much problem with patents as copyright, but both kill innovation because large companies spend millions of dollars patenting ideas they don't plan to put into effect. Small guys do this as well. The big companies often do it to kill competition. They don't want any new ideas interfering with their business model, and they want a large patent library to defend against patent lawsuits in the form of a countersuit. The little guy does it so that when a big company comes up with the same idea, the little guy can sue and try to get a pay out. All this stifles innovations.



    As far as MPEG LA is concerned, I don't see it worst then any other patenting body.



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Realistic View Post


    What planet are you from? If software patents were not allowed why would anyone spend time and money developing software if anyone could then just basically copy, steal and call it their own? If a company or person can't make a profit writing software then obviously they won't even bother to try.



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