Re: [codec] Skype IPR disclosure

"Benjamin M. Schwartz" <> Wed, 24 March 2010 16:04 UTC

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Date: Wed, 24 Mar 2010 12:04:12 -0400
From: "Benjamin M. Schwartz" <>
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To: "Kevin P. Fleming" <>
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Cc: Codec WG <>
Subject: Re: [codec] Skype IPR disclosure
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Kevin P. Fleming wrote:
> I
> am glad to see that they've chosen the expected royalty-free
> patent-non-assert licensing path.

Their patent non-assert is so full of holes as to be of little use to me.
Two holes stand out:

Skype retains the right to terminate any license grants and assert its
patents (including the right to claim past royalties) against any entity
... that brings any lawsuit against Skype or any of Skype’s affiliates

So if I find out that Skype has been taunting my chihuahua, I can't sue
them.  If I sue them, they'll retroactively remove my right to use the
patents, and demand arbitrarily large royalties for practicing it.  This
clause is noxious and absurd.  As written, it would effectively render
Skype/Ebay immune to all litigation on any grounds once the IWAC is

Skype retains the right to assert its patents against any product or
portion thereof that is not necessary to comply with the standard

This sentence, if it makes sense at all, would dramatically curtail
innovation around the IWAC.  Every program not "necessary to comply with
the standard" would require a separately negotiated patent license.  Got
an idea to tweak the codec for improved performance? Can't do it; you're
out of the standard.  Want to write an add-on to the reference encoder
that still complies with the standard?  Too bad: your add-on isn't
_necessary_ to comply with the standard, so Skype can get you for patent

Skype doesn't need either of these clauses.  Personally, I doubt either is
enforceable, not that I'd stake my fate on it.  Both of them should be
removed from the grant in order to make the terms acceptable.