12 companies own patents essential to Google's VP8 codec

MPEG LA announced the call for parties to come forward if they had patents essential to Google's VP8 video codec earlier this year. The codec is central to WebM, the video file format that competes with the expensive H.264 format. For those who do not know, MPEG LA manages patents for motion pictures and video, according to Ars Technica. Well, a deadline came and went with no word from MPEG LA. 

A spokesman for MPEG LA did an interview with Streaming Media, saying that companies had come forward and identified patents that are essential to the VP8 codec. When pressured further, the representative stated the following:

Those patent holders found to have at least one essential patent were invited to discuss and determine the possible creation of a pool license and the terms of any such license. Thus far, 12 parties have been found to have patents essential to the VP8 standard. Generally, parties may submit patents for evaluation of essentiality to VP8 at any time during the process of facilitating a patent pool, and may continue to do so after the pool launches, assuming one is formed.

Google did issue a statement on the matter, saying that they are committed to the WebM standard and encourage companies to become involved. It remains to be seen whether a patent pool will be formed and if they would sue the 600-pound gorilla that is Google. After spending 105 million dollars to acquire the technology, Google isn't likely to give it up.

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38 Comments

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Software patents should only be awarded if R&D has been demonstrated. It's not enough to demonstrate the patent idea in a document. Otherwise we will continue with the patent trolling industry and stifle innovation.

KingCrimson said,
Software patents should only be awarded if R&D has been demonstrated. It's not enough to demonstrate the patent idea in a document. Otherwise we will continue with the patent trolling industry and stifle innovation.

The development of a software could take looong time. How would you feel if your small(er) co. could not develop an original idea just because a bigger co. steals it and pours more money in it? That would be good for innovation, right?

Then you should be required to demonstrate a working prototype in a reasonable timeframe.

Patent pools is a plague right now. It's as bad as collusion. Gouv will need to do something about it one day or another.

Right now it's impossible to create a new vdieo codec without the fear to be sued by MPEG LA even if the new codec is 100% new and original.

This is a big problem and anyone who can't see it is blind and naive.

This is a slap for Google who insisted that their codec is open source and didn't want to use H.264 even after Microsoft absorbed the license fee for it on FireFox and Chrome. Can they now stop acting like little babies and accept H.264 as a the HTML5 video codec?

Riva said,
Can they now stop acting like little babies and accept H.264 as a the HTML5 video codec?
This is a slap to no one because it does not prove a thing. It is quite normal to MPEGLA (and other patent trolls) to make these bogus press conferences to spread fear, uncertainty and doubt over the competition/masses. You should be the one to stop acting like a child. H.264 has a very thick license and patent skin and you still try to push its use on what is supposed to be an absolutely free, accessible and unrestricted medium.

tiagosilva29 said,
This is a slap to no one because it does not prove a thing. It is quite normal to MPEGLA (and other patent trolls) to make these bogus press conferences to spread fear, uncertainty and doubt over the competition/masses. You should be the one to stop acting like a child. H.264 has a very thick license and patent skin and you still try to push its use on what is supposed to be an absolutely free, accessible and unrestricted medium.

the internet is not free. I pay each month to access it as if I'm paying royalties. so I'm not sure which "absolutely free, accessible and unrestricted medium" you are talking about.

what is a patent troll? it seems now-a-days anyone who sues another over patents is automatically a "patent troll" whether they have a valid ground to sue or not.

originally being a patent troll meant a company/person who has little to no use for a certain IP with little to no intention of incorporating such patents into actual products but waits for others to incorporate similar functions of said patents into actual products try and sue. please explain to me how the MPEGLA is a patent troll? or has the definition changed while I was somewhere under a rock?

ctrl_alt_delete said,
the internet is not free.
I said free. Not gratis.
ctrl_alt_delete said,
I pay each month to access it as if I'm paying royalties.
You happen to be paying for access. But you are not paying royalties or grants for all the specifications/protocols you use.
ctrl_alt_delete said,
what is a patent troll? it seems now-a-days anyone who sues another over patents is automatically a "patent troll" whether they have a valid ground to sue or not. (...) please explain to me how the MPEGLA is a patent troll? or has the definition changed while I was somewhere under a rock?
I'm using the term in lato sensu. They are not even suing... just trolling the masses with patents they don't own or even cared to prove as a match to their competition.

You must be sick in the brains. Which part of "Microsoft and Apple are paying those fees for public use of H.264" you do not get? Google throws the word "open standards" in a sentence and you just black out and support whatever they say. Take a cold shower and stop reading Trovald's blog for a month.

Riva, perhaps respond to the points made rather than attacking the poster. By paying for Apple/MS software you *are* paying for those royalties, just indirectly.

It's not just google which dislikes implementing the H.264 codec as a HTML5 standard. HTML is completely opensource and that is how it must remain which includes all of it's supplementary uses including it's <video> tag and which codec it uses.

If the W3C can find a truly open source codec then that should be used as the HTML 5 standard, however as Microsoft constantly proves, it's up to the browser developer with which 'standard' they do actually implement...

Until a opensource codec with opensource permissions is put in-place it will stall the HTML 5 <video> technical spec being finalised by the W3C.

tiagosilva29 said,
This is a slap to no one because it does not prove a thing. It is quite normal to MPEGLA (and other patent trolls) to make these bogus press conferences to spread fear, uncertainty and doubt over the competition/masses. You should be the one to stop acting like a child. H.264 has a very thick license and patent skin and you still try to push its use on what is supposed to be an absolutely free, accessible and unrestricted medium.

Well, let me put it this way.
Burger and Fries: $10
A nice steak dinner: $25
Half-Eaten Rotting Apple: Free

Not everyone wants to live up to your standard of trash eating.

PDJKEELAN said,
It's not just google which dislikes implementing the H.264 codec as a HTML5 standard. HTML is completely opensource and that is how it must remain which includes all of it's supplementary uses including it's <video> tag and which codec it uses.

If the W3C can find a truly open source codec then that should be used as the HTML 5 standard, however as Microsoft constantly proves, it's up to the browser developer with which 'standard' they do actually implement...

Until a opensource codec with opensource permissions is put in-place it will stall the HTML 5 <video> technical spec being finalised by the W3C.


Opensource and better are two separate things that are not dependent on each other.
It is OPEN means NOTHING about its quality.

Kirkburn said,
Riva, perhaps respond to the points made rather than attacking the poster. By paying for Apple/MS software you *are* paying for those royalties, just indirectly.

So?
Apple and Microsoft - that is everyone.
Their h264 codecs come with all their devices and operating systems.
No problem.

M2Ys4U said,
Software patents should be banned.

Have you ever read a mechanical patent, or a design patent? Most of them are so obvious that they make software patents look like quantum physics.

To be consistent, you would not be able to ban just software patents, but all sorts of other patents. Which might be OK. But then, it really wouldn't have anything to do with software patents -- but with the ease of obtaining a patent in general.

it isnt sad, you think that people shouldn't get paid for their work, google is a big corp. and they should pay out to the men and women that made the code they used.

illustrick said,
it isnt sad, you think that people shouldn't get paid for their work, google is a big corp. and they should pay out to the men and women that made the code they used.

They don't like to pay, this they showed with Android over and over.

illustrick said,
it isnt sad, you think that people shouldn't get paid for their work, google is a big corp. and they should pay out to the men and women that made the code they used.

File formats, specifications, protocols and such should be open.

This is what Goggle try to do and a i support them 100%.

illustrick said,
it isnt sad, you think that people shouldn't get paid for their work, google is a big corp. and they should pay out to the men and women that made the code they used.

No, I actually fully support people getting paid for their hard work. But charging people to use a file format, and then making that file format a standard, is just feeding your own cash cow. That's like Dick Cheney being Vice President AND CEO of Haliburton, whose subsidiaries all had contracts with the DoD to provide essential support services in our various warzones.

It's pretty sad when people can't even develop something original without somebody else getting butthurt because after they're done it somewhat resembles something that already exists. Where would we be if Ford Motor Company had patented the steering wheel as a method of controlling the direction of automobiles so General Motors and other companies weren't allowed to use it?

But the MPEG-LA / Companies in the MPEG-LA don't stop you from using it.
You can use Apple, or Microsoft's, or Sony's patents all you want, once you pay them or the MPEG-LA for them.

You really think nothing in a modern car is patented, and GM isn't paying Ford, and Ford isn't paying Chrysler, etc to use it ?

I haven't seen a bigger trolling than Google's WebM.

H.264 is better in all aspects.
- Software Performance
- Compression
- Quality
- Hardware Support
- Availability
- Industry use
- etc.

And if that is not enough,
10-bit H.264 offers better compression (with the same quality) compared to 8-bit (normal) H.264.

Google should give up and GTFO.

Anooxy said,
What problem would the license pose to me?
It's more an issue for those who want to implement it for others ... such as on Linux.

Udedenkz said,
I haven't seen a bigger trolling than Google's WebM.

H.264 is better in all aspects.
- Software Performance
- Compression
- Quality
- Hardware Support
- Availability
- Industry use
- etc.

And if that is not enough,
10-bit H.264 offers better compression (with the same quality) compared to 8-bit (normal) H.264.

Google should give up and GTFO.


+ 1
Not to mention support for EXISTING devices (TVs, signal receivers, phones, tablets, bundled with most OSes)

Udedenkz said,
I haven't seen a bigger trolling than Google's WebM.

Coming from one of the biggest troll here it's ironic to say the least.

Kirkburn said,
It's more an issue for those who want to implement it for others ... such as on Linux.

A non-issue.
Linux was never designed for entertainment purposes.

Most PCs come with Apple or Microsoft OS, and if the user decides to opt-out of those Operating Systems he/she should be aware of the disadvantages of free alternatives.

Udedenkz, sometimes you say sensible things. That *seriously* wasn't one of them.

A major point of the internet is that it's free and open ... if I choose to use Linux to view it, that shouldn't restrict me. (No, don't bring up image codecs, that is very old, and really not applicable).

Just so you know, I recognise that different codecs have different benefits. I personally am willing to sacrifice some things for others.

Udedenkz said,

A non-issue.
Linux was never designed for entertainment purposes.

Most PCs come with Apple or Microsoft OS, and if the user decides to opt-out of those Operating Systems he/she should be aware of the disadvantages of free alternatives.

You can't be serious? You're telling me that you'd rather there was only one single codec that everyone has to pay for, rather than having a variety of free alternatives, even if the quality isn't quite as good, but still fine for most uses? I seriously can't get around that logic, both as a developer and a consumer

I actually like WebM. I think that it's a great media codec. The MPEG-LA is in way over their heads with this one. They just want to find another reason to take control over our media and to be able to continue pressing DRM onto users of the H.264 codec. Disgusting, really. I just hope that the WebM standard improves in quality, though, because right now I find its quality to be quite inferior in comparison to the more established ones like H.264. Hopefully, though, Google will improve the quality or another codec like Ogg will rise in popularity...

Come on, we all knew this was going to happen. You can't make a new video codec without stepping on Someone elses toes in this day and age. Google was just naive to think they would be able to slide by with this one.

Love or hate the MPEG-LA, at least they have their act together, everything is laid out, and we know where they stand, and who owns what. There are no surprised with H264.. WebM on the other had is likely going to be a very different story over the next few years.

We know where we are with h264, because the MPEG-LA members pooled their knowledge to create a great codec. The problem is that no-one else can now compete because the vast patent pool they collectively hold locks out any possible alternatives. WebM and Theora, while not necessarily superior, are still being pressured out of existance by the MPEG-LA for patent infringement. I'm sure that the MPEG-LA has even come out and said that no video codec could ever be created that doesn't violate one of their patents, which means that any video codec created from this point forward will have to be licenced from the MPEG-LA.

Who need's competition when you've got patents.

Ryoken said,
Come on, we all knew this was going to happen. You can't make a new video codec without stepping on Someone elses toes in this day and age. Google was just naive to think they would be able to slide by with this one.

Google has a culture of pushing the boundaries of what's permissible under the law. Look at how they pushed through Google Books.

In contrast, ever since the antitrust suit, Microsoft has had a culture of lying down and letting others walk all over them. For example, each time the VC-1 codec is used to encode a movie for Blu-ray, Sony makes more money than Microsoft does. Despite the fact that Microsoft developed the VC-1 codec.