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."
Thread beginning with comment 422027
To view parent comment, click here.
To read all comments associated with this story, please click here.
RE: "legal move against Theora"
by pgeorgi on Sat 1st May 2010 18:31 UTC 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

pgeorgi Member since:
2010-02-18

"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.
"

With a patent in the pool, they supposely gain free use of the codec.
Any future competitor is either part of this group, or has to pay up, if they manage to declare h.264 the only generally accepted video codec standard in the industry.

It skews the production cost of gadgets like the iDevices: Apple doesn't have to pay for the codec, the average competing company has to pay or face losing some large markets (by not being able to sell to the US and probably elsewhere), while at the same time ensuring that the format is supported by codec functions in COTS chips.

I'm not sure how important the video editing market is for Apple, but the same applies there, too.

If Apple were to support a free codec, they'd essentially help their competitors (all of them, not just the other extortionists at MPEG-LA).

Given that they're already in the MPEG-LA pool, "supporting Microsoft" is probably a lesser evil from their point of view.

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.

Why is that so? Because MPEG-LA (and Thomson before them with Vorbis) played the FUD card ("Surely there must be patents that cover that codec, no?")

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.

And that's why that won't happen. The most they'd produce will be a "sample" of patents, so they can continue playing the FUD game with "all the other patents".
And even that would be a surprisingly heavy-handed move, given their (rather successful) modus operandi of the last years.

Reply Parent Score: 1