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VP8 and MPEG LA (WebM blog)
Posted Mar 7, 2013 22:05 UTC (Thu) by dowdle (subscriber, #659)
Posted Mar 8, 2013 0:25 UTC (Fri) by Wol (guest, #4433)
What's the betting that it's MPEG-LA that have had to bend over ... ?
I wouldn't put it past Google to have gone to MPEG-LA and said "look at this pile of evidence. Do you want us to give it to the USPTO and ask them to re-examine your patents? Just sign here and there'll be no unpleasantness :-)".
Posted Mar 8, 2013 2:34 UTC (Fri) by drag (subscriber, #31333)
The most likely way Google would be able to get this would be through cross-licensing patents. They paid a LOT for Motorola's patents and maybe some of the MPEG-LA members wanted a cheap way to avoid violating some of those. But since I don't see any mention of cross-licensing then I don't know how likely this is.
> but does menttion that no licence is being offered by MPEG-LA...
I am curious how Google accomplished this. They know that VP8 would be worthless if people had to license it from MPEG-LA. It would make it effectively the same as H.264 from a end user's legal perspective. So they did something very important and impressive to have a blanket license granted to not only their VP8 implementation, but ALL VP8 implementations whether they are derivative or not. Without this it would pretty much eliminate any point in using it over the already well established H.264 stuff; both from business and open source perspective.
> I wouldn't put it past Google to have gone to MPEG-LA and said "look at this pile of evidence. Do you want us to give it to the USPTO and ask them to re-examine your patents? Just sign here and there'll be no unpleasantness :-)".
Given the history of USPTO and the massive unlikelihood that anybody would be able to defeat the patents by making them invalid in court I think this is extremely unlikely. Could be wrong, but I don't think so. It would be nice. By why play this game? Why not release the evidence and just leave it at that? They don't have to take MPEG-LA to court to convince other people that the patents have no teeth. Once people see the evidence then they would simply not feel compelled to pay MPEG-LA for the licenses over those particular patents. You don't need to court to destroy patents...
A alternative, and more somewhat more likely scenario (although I still think is unlikely), is that this is purely a marketing stunt. There is no way to prove a negative in this sort of case (MPEG-LA is not a risk). So Google figured out that the 'Fear and Doubt' game was working against VP8 adoption. The effective licensing costs for H.264 are so low that it made the legal issue mute when dealing with other large players. It was seen by large players that complying with H.264 was costing them virtually nothing and VP8 represented a unknown legal risk. So why risk it?
So Google simply threw a few million at MPEG-LA to get the blanket license for patents that seem like they could pose a risk, even if Google's lawyers think that they may be able to work around them. This way it removes the FUD and clears the way for the adoption of VP8 and VP9. This would be expensive, but they have a huge budget for promoting their products and maybe this was seen as a cheaper way to get users out of the shadow of doubt then to try to convince them through adverts and press releases.
Posted Mar 8, 2013 6:02 UTC (Fri) by eru (subscriber, #2753)
Posted Mar 8, 2013 8:19 UTC (Fri) by daniel (subscriber, #3181)
Posted Mar 8, 2013 12:12 UTC (Fri) by man_ls (guest, #15091)
Posted Mar 8, 2013 13:12 UTC (Fri) by bawjaws (guest, #56952)
More interestingly, the films and TV shows that Google rents are going to start being VP8 on ChromeOS due to that fake DRM they're trying to put into web standards to stop people using the fake DRM in Flash and Silverlight.
Kind of mixed feelings about that, but, it seems to be working.
Posted Mar 8, 2013 13:28 UTC (Fri) by man_ls (guest, #15091)
It is a bit thermonuclear: as a threat it looks great, in real life it sucks.
Posted Mar 8, 2013 13:24 UTC (Fri) by bawjaws (guest, #56952)
That's a big deal, and particularly the ability to jump quickly to VP9 due to the lesser format lock-in for effectively disposable video makes this a good place for open codecs to start.
They've already chosen Opus on the audio side, it could well be a very big deal.
Google's announcement email to the WebRTC list:
They're supposed to be making the codec decision at an IETF meeting in a week or so. Google delayed addressing the topic at the last meeting saying they had something lined up that would silence the critics. I guess the other shoe just dropped.
Posted Mar 8, 2013 14:10 UTC (Fri) by bawjaws (guest, #56952)
MPEG (not MPEG-LA) have been kicking around the idea of an royalty-free codec for a while, basing it on old MPEG tech that has fallen out of patent or on getting H.264 folk to agree to freeing up some baseline patents.
With this latest announcement about patents, Google has proposed VP8 to become the official MPEG royalty free codec.
Posted Mar 8, 2013 18:30 UTC (Fri) by Lennie (subscriber, #49641)
H.265 might still have a slight head-start though.
Posted Mar 8, 2013 6:22 UTC (Fri) by iabervon (subscriber, #722)
Posted Mar 8, 2013 13:06 UTC (Fri) by pboddie (guest, #50784)
Posted Mar 8, 2013 18:41 UTC (Fri) by iabervon (subscriber, #722)
Posted Mar 8, 2013 22:25 UTC (Fri) by pboddie (guest, #50784)
Posted Mar 8, 2013 23:21 UTC (Fri) by iabervon (subscriber, #722)
Injunctions are not a replacement for damages
Posted Mar 9, 2013 3:04 UTC (Sat) by tialaramex (subscriber, #21167)
Injunctions are a means of _preventing harm_. The court must be persuaded that without the injunction some type of harm will occur to the plaintiff (e.g. their priceless 10th century wall painting will be destroyed, or their stranglehold on the desktop PC market will be broken) which is unlawful, and which cannot be made right through any of the court's normal remedies (e.g. monetary damages). If this is so it can decide based on very limited evidence (often timely action is essential) that the plaintiff is on balance likely to succeed in their claim and that it's not excessive to prevent the defendant from doing something (e.g. demolishing the wall, or shipping a new OS) meanwhile.
But even without an injunction all the ordinary remedies are still available. You just have to actually go through the entire lawsuit process to reach a judgement and get the remedy you want, rather than cutting straight to the injunction and hoping it strangles the defendant so badly that they've no choice but to forfeit their day in court altogether.
A world where Apple can ship infringing iPhones despite a lawsuit, but then has the bailiffs at One Infinite Loop repossessing the office furniture is not one where there "aren't any meaningful consequences" to not paying.
Posted Mar 8, 2013 7:53 UTC (Fri) by epa (subscriber, #39769)
Posted Mar 8, 2013 9:03 UTC (Fri) by Wol (guest, #4433)
Patent APPLICATIONS are pretty much rubber-stamped by the USPTO.
Patent RE-EXAMS are much stricter - a significant number of patents are invalidated by a re-exam.
And it wouldn't cost Google much to swamp the USPTO with re-exam requests that are on-point, pertinent, and capable of doing much much much damage to the patents.
It is NOT normal practice to invalidate patents in court. Even in a court case it is far more effective, and cheaper, to refer the patents back to the USPTO for re-exam. Only if that route fails do you really want to get into a court battle over validity.
Posted Mar 8, 2013 9:26 UTC (Fri) by epa (subscriber, #39769)
Posted Mar 8, 2013 13:16 UTC (Fri) by bawjaws (guest, #56952)
Where it gets muddy is when they claim that their stack of patents apply to other codecs. That seems to involve courthouses and juries learning about the ins-and-outs of video compression, therefore high cost and risk.
Why would it be hard?
Posted Mar 8, 2013 16:05 UTC (Fri) by Wol (guest, #4433)
One only has to look at the gif patent (I think I've got the right one) where the USPTO granted two different patents on THE SAME algorithm. All Google has to do (and the tighter the patent is, the easier this is to do) is find a prior implementation of the same technique, and BOOM, the patent is gone.
I can't see it being hard for Google to find prior art. After all, they are the masters of search ... :-)
Posted Mar 8, 2013 21:08 UTC (Fri) by dlang (✭ supporter ✭, #313)
fight with google over something involving searching....
Posted Mar 9, 2013 21:38 UTC (Sat) by tterribe (✭ supporter ✭, #66972)
Google is a licensee of the H.264 pool at least (#384 on the list at <http://www.mpegla.com/main/programs/AVC/Pages/Licensees.aspx>). That means they and their affiliates have to offer a reciprocal license to all other licensees.
This is one of the major controversies of the Motorola v. Microsoft case: since Motorola was acquired after Google agreed to the license and not included in the explicit list of "affiliates" Google provided, and since the lawsuit began before Google acquired them, Motorola claims the reciprocal license does not apply. Microsoft claims it does.
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