I would like to see some clarification from Google on the patent situation as just a way to help reassure people on Vp8's usefullness.
Personally I am actually pretty confident on it. Not 100%, but it seems to me that for people developing a new codec that does not require compatibility AND have the resources to hire the lawyers to read patents.... then it should be relatively easy to avoid infringing on MPEG-LA patents.
Why do I feel this way?
Because all the MPEG-LA Patents are KNOWN.
They are published, listed, enforced, and so on and so forth. Soooo... What Google had to do would be to go through the patents lists published by MPEG-LA and double check that Vp8 avoided at least one claim on each patent. Then: Bingo! MPEG-LA threat nullified.
Known patents are major threat to open source when it comes to creating very compatible software. Stuff like texture compression techniques for OpenGL acceleration hardware, compatibility with MS Office formats, compatibility with H.264 and things like that. That sort of thing hurts OSS badly, but it's not the type of threat that should affect Vp8 as long as all known relavent patents are owned by Google and such.
It's the UNKOWN patents that are the biggest threat. Things owned by patent trolls that may be applied against VP8 in unpredictable ways, submarine patents, and all that crap.
It's not like MPEG-LA patents are a secret or it's impossible to find out what they cover... All patents literature and related relevent documentation is all public domain and MPEG-LA lists all of them. It's the weird unknown shit floating around owned by smaller groups and not published anywere in pools and such that is a threat against VP8..... And like it's pointed out in the article it's a threat against H.264, too!
MPEG-LA does not indemify you against patent trolls anymore or any less then Google or anybody else does. It's all a threat to anybody and avoiding Vp8 is not going to help you out any in any predictable fashion.
So I figure that unless MPEG-LA or somebody else goes out and specifically calls Google out AND lists the patents that Vp8 violates I figure Webm is about as safe as anything else to use.