Xiph.org's "Monty" on codecs and patents
Posted Nov 10, 2011 1:31 UTC (Thu) by gmaxwell
Parent article: Xiph.org's "Monty" on codecs and patents
With respect to things being "business as usual", it's informative to note that QTL has been peppering many RFCs with identically worded IPR 'disclosures', including decade old standards like SIP (RFC 2543).
The interplay between standards bodies and patent-miners like QTL is a increasingly complicated and hot area.
In many cases a standard depends on low barriers to adoption in order to provide value especially for software and protocols which have no intrinsic marginal cost to hide licensing fees in and it's actually pretty easy to find inventors who are willing to give away infrastructure technology simply because it'll enable other business. Which is also why you see groups like Mozilla or Google sponsoring the development of unencumbered web technology in order to build the next generation of awesome stuff (commercial or otherwise) we need quality common infrastructure and we need it to be as widely available as possible.
The existence of patents themselves aren't really a barrier to this but the patent system and some of its users manage to create significant barriers as collateral damage.
In addition to the innocent patent holder who would just prefer not to give away their inventions, who's inventions must be tediously discovered and avoided, there is also a backdrop of parasites. Things like trolls buying up shaky patents and extorting people who can't afford to litigate or the risk of non-participating patent holders sneaking some trivial but essential patented technique into a standard, or following the procedings and filing applications around the groups' work, and thereby "capturing" the standard and allowing them to extract a rent from all its users. (Both are inequitable conduct which would bar their patent claims
if you can prove it and wait the two technology generations it would take to go through the courts!)
No one seems to know how this tension should be resolved, not the regulators, the standards bodies, or the patent holders. This results in some rather schizophrenic behavior from all involved as they try to act based on their interpretation of what the law is (or will be!).
Earlier this year the FTC recently put out a call for comments on the interaction of patents and standards bodies and Xiph.Org was one of the respondents and offered a number of thoughts on improving the situation.
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