Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 26th Apr 2011 11:48 UTC, submitted by Elv13
Multimedia, AV And the fight continues. Only a few months after the desperate move by the MPEG-LA to get anyone - anyone - to submit patents to a possible WebM patent pool, Google and the WebM community have struck back. A whole slew of major companies have formed the WebM Community Cross-License initiative, basically a sort-of Open Invention Network for WebM.
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Patent retaliation
by lemur2 on Tue 26th Apr 2011 12:14 UTC
lemur2
Member since:
2007-02-17

OK, supposedly MPEG LA are building up a patent pool of WebM patents which they intend to claim read on WebM, and then (presumably) demand royalty payments from people using WebM.

Google claim that all of the patents related to (and required for) WebM are offered to everybody royalty-free. Google also have stated that they undertook an extensive patent search and analysis in relation to VP8 before Google purchased On2, and as a result of this search Google were very confident about WebM.

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2011/04/25/google_announces_webm_paten...

"From the very beginning, Google has claimed that the format is on solid legal ground. "We have done a pretty thorough analysis of VP8 and On2 Technologies prior to the acquisition and since then, and we are very confident with the technology and that's why we're open sourcing," Google product manager Mike Jazayeri told us."

Now think about the situation of a normal patent lawsuit. Normally, some company will have a product, and some patent holder will approach that company with a claim that the product violates their patent, and demand royalties. If the company refuses, only then the dispute goes to court.

With the MPEG LA patent pool for WebM, this situation is not the case. The patent holders who hold patents in the MPEG LA pool will never have approached Google at any point and tried to negotiate a deal.

Isn't this a clear-cut slam-dunk case of tortious interference?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tortious_interference

"Tortious interference, also known as Intentional interference with contractual relations, in the common law of tort, occurs when a person intentionally damages the plaintiff's contractual or other business relationships."

Isn't the patent holder deliberately trying to interfere with Google's business relations with other companies in relation to WebM?

http://www.webmproject.org/about/supporters/

Aren't patent holders who believe they have a patent which reads on WebM supposed to approach Google first?

No wonder that MPEG LA are apparently under investigation for anti-trust violations.

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2011/03/04/doj_investgates_mpeg_la_ove...

Reply Score: 6

RE: Patent retaliation
by renox on Tue 26th Apr 2011 13:21 in reply to "Patent retaliation"
renox Member since:
2005-07-06

The patent holders who hold patents in the MPEG LA pool will never have approached Google at any point and tried to negotiate a deal. Isn't this a clear-cut slam-dunk case of tortious interference?


No, it isn't.. Google just lost a lawsuit (*) for using Linux which is claimed to use a patented algorithm, AFAIK the patent troll never tried to contact Linux developpers, yet he won the lawsuit, so I doubt very much that he was legally obliged to do so.

Aren't patent holders who believe they have a patent which reads on WebM supposed to approach Google first?

No they aren't, please show me the law who say that they have to do so..

And 'being under investigation' is very different from 'being convicted of'.

Come on, I despise MPEG LA too, but inventing laws won't help here.

*: Note that I don't believe that the sky is falling for this lawsuit: the patent is weak, so it'll be probably invalidated..

Reply Parent Score: 4

RE[2]: Patent retaliation
by lemur2 on Tue 26th Apr 2011 23:31 in reply to "RE: Patent retaliation"
lemur2 Member since:
2007-02-17

"The patent holders who hold patents in the MPEG LA pool will never have approached Google at any point and tried to negotiate a deal. Isn't this a clear-cut slam-dunk case of tortious interference?
No, it isn't.. Google just lost a lawsuit (*) for using Linux which is claimed to use a patented algorithm, AFAIK the patent troll never tried to contact Linux developpers, yet he won the lawsuit, so I doubt very much that he was legally obliged to do so. "

In this case (which was very weak and should have been rejected) the patent holder tried to negotiate with the company (Google) who were distributing the product which was claimed to infringe.

In the case of a company submitting a patent to MPEG LA pool for WebM and MPEG LA going after some user of WebM at no stage did the patent hold try to negotiate with Google (who are the owners and distributors of WebM).

"Aren't patent holders who believe they have a patent which reads on WebM supposed to approach Google first?
No they aren't, please show me the law who say that they have to do so.. And 'being under investigation' is very different from 'being convicted of'. Come on, I despise MPEG LA too, but inventing laws won't help here. "

Annti-trust law is meant to prevent companies/organisations holding a dominant position from seeking to create or maintain a monopoly by interfering with competing products. This law would most assuredly apply in this situation to MPEG LA.

MPEG LA have actually in the past sought an exemption from anti-trust law, and they were given very short shrift by the administration.

Edited 2011-04-26 23:46 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE: Patent retaliation
by Hiev on Tue 26th Apr 2011 18:04 in reply to "Patent retaliation"
Hiev Member since:
2005-09-27

Do you have any evidence that they didn't approach Google first? and if that is the case is there anything illegal about it?

Reply Parent Score: 1

RE[2]: Patent retaliation
by lemur2 on Tue 26th Apr 2011 23:41 in reply to "RE: Patent retaliation"
lemur2 Member since:
2007-02-17

Do you have any evidence that they didn't approach Google first? and if that is the case is there anything illegal about it?


Anti-trust law is meant to prevent a dominant product in a market seeking to preclude the entry of a new competitor.

The DoJ is reportedly investigating MPEG LA right now over its attempt to generate a WebM patent pool without negotiating with Google first.

Google OTOH have shown every indication that they would be more than willing to purchase any patents which could read on WebM. Google did buy On2 after all.

So, if a patent holder made a submission to MPEG LA's WebM patent pool, which is clearly set up to try to put a royalty cost on WebM and thereby prevent it from becoming widely used, instead of going to Google and at least trying to make a deal, why would that not be something that the DoJ should scrutinise very intently in their anti-trust investigation?

After all, the patent holder might get a good price from Google, but OTOH MPEG LA's scheme seems explicitly set up try to prevent WebM from competing against H264, and therefore never becoming widely used (and so no money for the patent holder). So why would the patent holder not go to Google where they have a better chance of getting a good price for their patent?

Whenever Microsoft bring a patent lawsuit (say the one against TomTom for example) ... isn't it the case that the very first thing Microsoft said in announcing the lawsuit was something along the lines of "we tried to negotiate with TomTom but they refused"?

Microsoft do this, and say this, in order to avoid allegations of anti-trust behaviour.

Edited 2011-04-26 23:52 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 2