Re: [codec] Skype IPR disclosure

Rob Glidden <> Wed, 24 March 2010 22:13 UTC

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Date: Wed, 24 Mar 2010 15:13:31 -0700
From: Rob Glidden <>
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Cc: Codec WG <>, stephen botzko <>
Subject: Re: [codec] Skype IPR disclosure
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I would agree that the wording seems to go beyond a narrow non-assert into business strategy, and this is furthered by potentially ambiguous phrasings such as "royalty free, reasonable and non discriminatory terms".  "RF" and "RAND" might overlap in some definitions, but they are not the same.

Also I would note the two statements (1297 and 1164) appear to be (only?) a single patent application for a method of estimating noise levels with 3 independent claims.  As further progress is made, it might be helpful to understand scope and prior art, and relationship to an entire contribution, and the specific quantified value of the novelty identified in the international search opinion of applying opposite non-linear functions.

Though not reflected in the disclosure, the US application claims priority to a Great Britain Application No. 0703275.8, filed Feb. 20, 2007." rel="nofollow">

The PCT is at:" rel="nofollow">

Perhaps someone familiar with this application would correct any mis-impressions above?


Benjamin M. Schwartz wrote:
stephen botzko wrote:
I think it is unreasonable to require IPR holders to unconditionally promise
to not assert their patents under any and all circumstances. 
I am not asking for such an unconditional promise.  I am just noting some
restrictions that seem especially onerous to me.

In practice the first clause does not immunize Skype from lawsuits.  Many
companies have similar "defensive suspension" clauses, and they still get
sued fairly regularly.  
There are different kinds of defensive suspension.  For example, the W3C
allows defensive suspension, but only for lawsuits on patent infringement:
a W3C Royalty-Free license ... may be suspended with respect to any
licensee when licensor is sued by licensee for infringement of claims
essential to implement any W3C Recommendation ... [but] may not impose any
further conditions or restrictions
(" rel="nofollow">

That seems like a reasonable case for defensive suspension.  Skype's
wording, by contrast, is totally unreasonable, as it extends the defensive
suspension to _all_ lawsuits, no matter their object.  I expect most
companies to use the IWAC, and maybe even most humans eventually.  The
retroactive revocation means that these people can be deterred from suing
Skype/Ebay even after the patents have all expired.

It's absurd, not to mention legally questionable.

The second clause ensures that someone outside the IETF cannot take the
Skype technology, improve it, and offer a competitive proprietrary codec
that uses Skype IPR. If you modify the codec, you should be doing it in the
context of the IETF standard.
And once the standard is made?  Skype could effectively block the IETF
from creating an improved version of its own codec, or any optional
extensions (they're not "necessary").  I don't think that's reasonable at all.



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