Nokia goes after Google over VP8 video codec

Microsoft has championed the H.264 video codec for use in web browsers for some time while its rival Google has been pushing for VP8 as an alternative as part of its WebM project. Now Microsoft has a new, if familiar, ally in trying to fight the VP8 codec: Nokia

FOSS Patents reports that Nokia has published a paper to the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) that lists 64 patents and 22 pending patent applications that Nokia will not donate to the IETF standard for VP8. Nokia also won't be offering FRAND access to those patents for the codec.

Why? Nokia released a statement to FOSS Patents which claim it supports "open and collaborative efforts for standardization". However, Nokia added that Google's VP8 codec does not qualify for that kind of label, saying:

We are now witnessing one company attempting to force the adoption of its proprietary technology, which offers no advantages over existing, widely deployed standards such as H.264 and infringes Nokia's intellectual property. As a result, we have taken the unusual step of declaring to the Internet Engineering Task Force that we are not prepared to license any Nokia patents which may be needed to implement its RFC6386 specification for VP8, or for derivative codecs.

While the H.264 codec is technically not open source, it was declared royalty free for developers a few years ago. It will be interesting to see how Google formally responds to Nokia's actions.

Source: FOSS Patents | Image via Nokia
Via: Engadget

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42 Comments

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I wouldn't mind if VP8 was actually better, but it's pretty bad. Long encoding time just to be worse quality than h264.

Corporations, and anyone who has patents, trademarks or copyrights are required to act when they perceive their intellectual property is being used otherwise they lose their rights to it within a short period of time - the IP can be considered abandoned

mmjm said,
Corporations, and anyone who has patents, trademarks or copyrights are required to act when they perceive their intellectual property is being used otherwise they lose their rights to it within a short period of time - the IP can be considered abandoned

That's wrong, only trademarks work that way.

Have you ever heard about "submarine patents"? The whole reason they exist is because you can leave your IP unprotected for years and wait for the technology to be adopted and spread enough to begin suing everyone around.

Wait...I see so much hate because Nokia is "claiming" Google is "forcing" their standard in place of H264. Everyone I see is saying Google's option is not as good as what we have been using.

But wait, Apple basically "force" HTML5 which is subpar compared to Flash where devs can make one size fit all platforms for a subpar CPU hogging low FPS adaptation that is worse and yet no one was crying. Everyone was like death to Flash and blah blah. Yet tests and facts show Flash is better and faster and only has to be coded once to work with all platfoms where HTML% forces devs to work overtime to make thestuff work with different browsers.

What people don't understand is if Google is allowed to do this it will effect every mobile os. Think about it. What makes me laugh is how people think Google is like this holier than thou and for the people kind of company when there really not, there like any other company that rakes in billions of dollars every year except they convince you there not by offering android for free. Which is a Linux based os that heavily steals from other companies. You could argue, Google is the reason htc is failing.

mrdeezus said,
What people don't understand is if Google is allowed to do this it will effect every mobile os. Think about it. What makes me laugh is how people think Google is like this holier than thou and for the people kind of company when there really not, there like any other company that rakes in billions of dollars every year except they convince you there not by offering android for free. Which is a Linux based os that heavily steals from other companies. You could argue, Google is the reason htc is failing.
Yet no one was crying when APple was bullying Adobe's Flash and pushing for HTML5 so everything will be compatible with Safari? Hmmm. Hypocrisy at its best.
You could argue Google is the reason HTC is failing? HAHA. So how is it that Samsung is using the same OS and they are very successful? Why is Motorola not as successful? What about Sony? Why isnt APple successful with Mac OS X? Why cant they beat WIndows? Come on I am sure you can do better.

The market chose what they wnat, let them do the same here. Apple used their money to basically force Flash off the mobile platform because they dontlash because they wnated their products to be pushed to the top. Yet Adobe support Apple even when APple was near bankruptcy and APple asper usualy spat in their face. They tried that same crap witjh Microsoft and then came begging for their help later even make IE the default browswer on the Mac. The Mac still is a bottom of the totum pole PC.

Seeing they had to retort to bullying their competitors, backed by big daddy M$, I'm assuming it isn't working out too well for them..

That must be why they recently returned to profitability, and why windows phone market share (of which Nokia are the primary driver) has risen month on month since November (GA of WP8), albeit in small but consistent increments.

recursive said,
Probably nothing to do with Nokia. I'm guessing its M$ using them as a proxy as usual to bully Google.

Like google is proxying using motorolla?

At least Nokia is just trying to protect its patents instead of asking for 2.5% of the end device...

So I'm automatically going to trust a partner of Microsoft when talking about one of it's direct competitors.

Once I see someone trustworthy echo these statements, then I'll believe it.

SongHyeonDeok said,
So I'm automatically going to trust a partner of Microsoft when talking about one of it's direct competitors.

Once I see someone trustworthy echo these statements, then I'll believe it.


How often does Nokia go into court over things? Not that much. And often its because they just have no choice. Nokia is not like Motorola.

Shadowzz said,

How often does Nokia go into court over things? Not that much. And often its because they just have no choice. Nokia is not like Motorola.

Be reassured that if Nokia, or any other company, has enough money to spend they will go in courts if they believe it could be advantageous to them.
Companies, again all companies, are on the market to generate profits and if and when they make something available for free is because it is part of a broader strategy.
Nothing wrong with this IMO....

techbeck said,
Whats the big deal? Not the first time a company has tried to push its own standards...and won't be the last either.

If your referring to Microsoft pushing their standards...
How much flaming and ranting does Microsoft get when they try to push ANY standard?
I'm not the biggest fan of proprietary standards. But if the only competition is sub-par and ALSO proprietary...
You can't win every battle Google.. Learn to pick your battles.

Shadowzz said,

If your referring to Microsoft pushing their standards...
How much flaming and ranting does Microsoft get when they try to push ANY standard?
I'm not the biggest fan of proprietary standards. But if the only competition is sub-par and ALSO proprietary...
You can't win every battle Google.. Learn to pick your battles.

Not referring to Microsoft at all. If a company wants its tech to be standard, it needs to push the tech and show how it is relevant. So this really is nothing new than what has been going.

If no one wants to use Google's tech, then it will fail and not go anywhere. But again, nothing new here really.

VP8 isn't even that good, in no way up to par to H264. I for one am happy to see anyone taking action to stop it from becoming a standard.

It's not being left for anyone to decide.. Google is shoving it down peoples throats..

They removed H264 from their own browser and keep trying to force everyone else to use it. So now sites have to have Flash, H264, and WebM just to reach everyone. It's BS.

H264 was the standard, set in stone or not, then Google purchased a codes with it's own set of legal patent issues dropped support for everything else and now wants everyone to adopt it. And rest assured, Nokia is the head of the pack in legal issues, if it gets to be the standard the others who have been infringed by it will start their legal battles and now we will be paying for it, rather than using H264 which is royalty free, and supported by almost every device out there. Not to mention included as a codec freely on Windows, MacOS, iOS, Android, WP, BB, etc..

If VP8 had SOME advantages I wouldn't be as annoyed, but it has none. It is simply not as good as H264, so forcing a change on everyone is foolish.

Google, go back, develop something Better than H264, then try to change the field.


The Market doesn't get to decide anything till the red tape is cleared.

Unless you want to start paying surcharges on every device/OS you buy because Opps, they didn't get the patents sorted out and now Nokia wants $50 per device to license their stuff.

This all should have been sorted out before Google even tried to propose it as any kind of standard.

alwaysonacoffebreak said,
The market chose H264 a long time ago, why switch now to a sub-par codec?

Because it's not free. We have Opus for a free and de joure standard audio codec, and we need one for video, too. It may be too late for VP8 to be that standard, but thankfully the IETF are working on a new one.

Ryoken said,
They removed H264 from their own browser and keep trying to force everyone else to use it.

Google never removed H264 support from their browser. I can't believe how much Nokia fanboyism is here on Neowin.
Don't want a free codec? Maybe next time you'll have to pay to watch videos on YouTube. You deserve it.

Meph said,

Because it's not free. We have Opus for a free and de joure standard audio codec, and we need one for video, too. It may be too late for VP8 to be that standard, but thankfully the IETF are working on a new one.

It is free to use. For us consumers we can just use it on Windows/OSX or download the codec. Even VLC already has the codec build in.
For you as a video editor.. the developer .. it is also free to use.
So what is the issue? that its proprietary?
Its better then its rivals, the quality is amazing and not only that, for its quality, the h.264 codec is probably the least resource consuming thing around.

Shadowzz said,
For you as a video editor.. the developer .. it is also free to use.

Oh yeah. I forgot about how they changed the permissions last year. There's still some problems with it being proprietary, though. I'm not an open source evangelist, though, so I'm not the best person to ask.

Shadowzz said,
Even VLC already has the codec build in.

VLC is regulated under French law, which is more lenient.

Mortis said,

Google never removed H264 support from their browser. I can't believe how much Nokia fanboyism is here on Neowin.
Don't want a free codec? Maybe next time you'll have to pay to watch videos on YouTube. You deserve it.

Google announced they'd remove it VERY soon but that "soon" never came (yet).

We already pay to watch youtube...thru viewing ads.

Crimson Rain said,

Google announced they'd remove it VERY soon but that "soon" never came (yet).

We already pay to watch youtube...thru viewing ads.

Is not this the way we pay for almost all "Free services" or "Free apps"?
I do not have problems with it.

Ryoken said,
It's not being left for anyone to decide.. Google is shoving it down peoples throats..

They removed H264 from their own browser and keep trying to force everyone else to use it. So now sites have to have Flash, H264, and WebM just to reach everyone. It's BS.

H264 was the standard, set in stone or not, then Google purchased a codes with it's own set of legal patent issues dropped support for everything else and now wants everyone to adopt it. And rest assured, Nokia is the head of the pack in legal issues, if it gets to be the standard the others who have been infringed by it will start their legal battles and now we will be paying for it, rather than using H264 which is royalty free, and supported by almost every device out there. Not to mention included as a codec freely on Windows, MacOS, iOS, Android, WP, BB, etc..

If VP8 had SOME advantages I wouldn't be as annoyed, but it has none. It is simply not as good as H264, so forcing a change on everyone is foolish.

Google, go back, develop something Better than H264, then try to change the field.

You mean how Apple dropped support for Flash to force HTML5 down our throats. Yes and even HTML5 is subpar compared to Flash, yet no one was complaining all that much.

TechieXP said,
You mean how Apple dropped support for Flash to force HTML5 down our throats. Yes and even HTML5 is subpar compared to Flash, yet no one was complaining all that much.

No one complained? People are still complaining about that.

NeoTrunks said,
No one complained? People are still complaining about that.

Well Adobe have cancelled development of Flash on mobile devices, now, anyway.

Two things.. Apple never dropped support for Flash. Flash was NEVER on iOS devices.
And Adobe has more to do with Apples stance on flash, it was the number one causes of crashes on MacOS, even simple little flash banners would spike CPU and RAM usage. Apple told them for years to fix it, they never did, and Apple finally had enough.

And good on them. I get 2weeks usage out of my iPad mini browsing websites and such, with Flash I'd probably be closer to a day given the kind of crap it does.. It's still the number one thing that crashes on my Windows computer, and if I didn't Require it for some sites, I wouldn't even installing it.

It can go the way of Java for all I care and vanish from my day to day life.

Fritzly said,

Is not this the way we pay for almost all "Free services" or "Free apps"?
I do not have problems with it.


Yes, for most free services. I do not have any problem with that and usually try not to install any adblockers.

Though I did install it because of f****** google. Somehow they "tracked" me and were displaying the SAME flash ad wherever I go (any site with google ads; even youtube).
The flash ad had some terrible sound...even if I clicked X button and it was "gone", the sound plays while I watch video on youtube. ****ty tracking and their ****ty ads.

>It will be interesting to see how Google formally responds to Nokia's actions.

Probably block Nokia phones from google maps again...

sagum said,
>It will be interesting to see how Google formally responds to Nokia's actions.

Probably block Nokia phones from google maps again...

or probably block metrotube again...

Nothing to do with Nokia, Google or Microsoft or my opinions on them but I actually do find it amusing that Google is trying to force their own codecs instead of using the most widely used one - H.264.