Linked by Thom Holwerda on Fri 30th Apr 2010 21:40 UTC, submitted by Helge
Legal Well, this certainly explains a whole lot. Both Apple and Microsoft have stated that the legality of Theora is highly debatable, and as it turns out, they knew more than we do - most likely courtesy of their close involvement with the MPEG-LA. Responding to an email from Free Software Foundation Europe activist Hugo Roy, Steve Jobs has stated that a patent pool is being assembled to go after Theora. Update: Monty Montgomery of Xiph (Ogg and Theora's parent organisation) has responded on Slashdot: "If Jobs's email is genuine, this is a powerful public gaffe ('All video codecs are covered by patents'). He'd be confirming MPEG's assertion in plain language anyone can understand. It would only strengthen the pushback against software patents and add to Apple's increasing PR mess. Macbooks and iPads may be pretty sweet, but creative individuals don't really like to give their business to jackbooted thugs."
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"legal move against Theora"
by Fettarme H-Milch on Fri 30th Apr 2010 23:07 UTC
Fettarme H-Milch
Member since:
2010-02-16

If Theora is covered by patents, assembling a patent pool is not a move against it. It's a process to reveal unknown patents. And unknown patents are the ones companies like Apple or Nokia are actually afraid of -- not a well defined set of patents that they could license and then be OK.

In a way it's even beneficiary to Theora, because those patents may actually not be vital and Xiph could use the MPEG-LA's patent list to code around them.

Imagine the following potential outcome:
The MPEG-LA's research finds out that the Ogg container uses patented techniques, but those are not used in Matroska.
Measure to save Theora: Mux the streams into MKV containers.
Applications that use GStreamer or similar media frameworks wouldn't even notice the difference, because they understand Matroska already.

Within one week the patent situation would have been resolved.

Sticking the head in the sand and pretending like nothing is happening (=ignoring potential submarine patents) is not a way to help Theora.

Reply Score: 3

RE: "legal move against Theora"
by pgeorgi on Sat 1st May 2010 18:31 in reply to ""legal move against Theora""
pgeorgi Member since:
2010-02-18

And unknown patents are the ones companies like Apple or Nokia are actually afraid of -- not a well defined set of patents that they could license and then be OK.

Apple is part of the h.264 licensor group, so they are afraid of every alternative to h.264

As for other companies: They could still claim that there are some unknown patents out there.
Noone would have expected Sisvel to cash in on MP3-licensees (that already paid up with Thomson!), and have them police computer gadget fairs for "unlicensed" MP3 players.

Did Thomson (holder of the MP3 pool) protect MP3 licensees against Sisvel? No, they didn't, and no, they can't. As a patent holder you are not required to license your patent - you can require others to stop infringing at all (ie. no product).
There are _very_ few exceptions to that rule (mostly covering "national security" and things like that)

"We fear there might be patents" is code for "we're not interested (for whatever reason) and need a semi-plausible reason for the crowd"

Reply Parent Score: 2

Fettarme H-Milch Member since:
2010-02-16

Apple is part of the h.264 licensor group, so they are afraid of every alternative to h.264

That's rubbish. Apple's business does not depend on AVC licensing fees.
MS is in the same group as well. Is Apple now keen to give MS money? No.

And Apple was just an example. Theora does not have big industry backing in general. And over the years whenever a company rep was asked by they don't support Theora, the answer was often that the patent situation was too shady for them.

If that Jobs mail is legit (which I doubt, BTW, because published Jobs mails are usually fake), then MPAG-LA calling for a patent pool is the best way to uncover patents and then let Xiph code around them.

Reply Parent Score: 2