Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 7th Mar 2013 20:47 UTC
Legal "Google and MPEG LA announced today that they have entered into agreements granting Google a license to techniques that may be essential to VP8 and earlier-generation VPx video compression technologies under patents owned by 11 patent holders. The agreements also grant Google the right to sublicense those techniques to any user of VP8, whether the VP8 implementation is by Google or another entity. It further provides for sublicensing those VP8 techniques in one next-generation VPx video codec. As a result of the agreements, MPEG LA will discontinue its effort to form a VP8 patent pool." The word that stood out to me: the auxiliary verb 'may', which has a rather low epistemic modality. To me, this indicates that this is not so much a clear-cut case of VP8 infringing upon patents, but more a precautionary move on Google's part.
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RE[2]: Comment by Nelson
by Nelson on Thu 7th Mar 2013 21:19 UTC in reply to "RE: Comment by Nelson"
Member since:

Generally these royalties are very, very small and the whole point of the MPEG LA is to facilitate their licensing.

I would've been surprised if Google picked this fight. I'm glad this ended well, as all patent disputes should.

Reply Parent Score: 1

RE[3]: Comment by Nelson
by some1 on Thu 7th Mar 2013 23:27 in reply to "RE[2]: Comment by Nelson"
some1 Member since:

No, they are not that small. E.g. MPEG2 rate is $2.00 per encoder/decoder/consumer product, and that's a new and reduced rate:
These days this is a big part of even a hardware player costs, not to mention software:
It's true that, say, MPEG4 and H.264 have lower costs, but they are not guaranteed to stay at this level, and are still quite expensive for free (as in beer) software.

To answer some other FUD you're spreading:

* There's, of course, zero probability that there are no patent holders that would want to try suing Google. What's hard to say is if those patent holders have any valid patents covering VP8 format or its implementation. We still don't know that. We know there are at least 11 holders claiming they have relevant IP, but such claims are often wrong (e.g. see recent claims re Opus). Without knowing specific patents we can only speculate.

* On2 never claimed there's no IP covering their codecs. They claimed they own all necessary IP. This is what "patent unencumbered" meant.

* MPEG LA has multiple patent pools. They don't claim that any existing pool (e.g. MPEG2 or H.264) covers VP8. That's why they announced creation of a new pool, which wasn't too successful, but now they are ditching it anyway.

Reply Parent Score: 6

FUD (but so what?)
by ndrw on Fri 8th Mar 2013 18:52 in reply to "RE[3]: Comment by Nelson"
ndrw Member since:

I think everyone, even MPEG LA, agrees that the possibility of exploitable patents being infringed in VP8 is minimal. The deal actually confirms it - MPEG LA would have never given VP8 green light if they had a real chance to stop it.

But, the risk of losing a court case is not the same as having one. The latter is much higher and potential damage is only slightly smaller. It doesn't matter if you go bust because of a $10M penalty or $0.1M costs of defending yourself.

Big companies (like Google or Samsung) don't care because the can afford the cost of a court battle. It does not affect individuals because the only thing MPEG LA can do with millions of "infringers" is to spread FUD. But there are a lot of middle-size companies that could have shipped products using VP8 but have instead decided to pay a couple of bucks for h.264 license to avoid spending $100k on lawyers. This deal takes the risk of having a legal action away, and clearly Google expects this will bring more VP8-enabled products and services to the market.

Reply Parent Score: 4