Re: [rtcweb] Google VP8 Patent Grant for third parties [Was Re:Proposal for H.263 baseline codec]

"Paul E. Jones" <paulej@packetizer.com> Thu, 05 April 2012 18:50 UTC

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From: "Paul E. Jones" <paulej@packetizer.com>
To: "'Jean-Marc Valin'" <jmvalin@mozilla.com>
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Subject: Re: [rtcweb] Google VP8 Patent Grant for third parties [Was Re:Proposal for H.263 baseline codec]
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Jean-Marc,

> Personally, I would be reluctant to indemnify anyone over IPR in a paper
> clip. This is the sad state of the patent system and it applies to every
> piece of technology.

Oh, I agree with you. :-)
 
> > Indeed, but I have a significantly higher level of confidence that I
> > can identify all of the legitimate companies with IPR on H.264,
> > whereas I haven't a clue where to start (outside of Google) for VP8.
> 
> Obviously, that makes H.264 so much safer, right?
> http://www.theregister.co.uk/2012/03/29/microsoft_motorola_patent_cases/

Motorola is a known patent holder.  So if Microsoft.  I assume Microsoft
elected to ignore Motorola's patent claims, and I assume Motorola ignored
Microsoft's patents, too, as I'm sure there would have been a reciprocity
agreement in place otherwise.  I don't know, but if you want to use H.264,
then you would have known to talk to Motorola and MS.
 
> > If I owned IPR on VP8 (which I don't personally; can't speak for my
> > employer), I certainly would not tell you and I would not join a
> > patent pool, either.  I would wait until you adopt VP8, build it into
> > software and hardware products, have it massively deployed, and then
> > I'd come along and collect my royalties.  There is absolutely no
> > financial incentive for an IPR holder to join a patent pool.
> 
> I assume this is why we've seen all these lawsuits against Google,
> Microsoft, Cisco, Apple... over their use of Vorbis and Speex, right?
> Seriously, I can count at least 10 free AV codecs and none of them have
> had any patent lawsuits that I'm aware of.

The "why" is unknown. It might be that a license was acquired. It might be
that patent holders do not care since the same companies are already
licensing their patents.  Perhaps the usage is not as high as other codecs,
including MP3 and G.729?  The fact there isn't a lawsuit does not mean these
are free from patents, unless the technology is so old patents are expired.
(I think that's one argument for using H.261, in spite of its small video
sizes.)
 
> The best interest of a H.264 patent owner is to avoid having to disclose,
> wait for adoption, and then be free to ask for a lot more than what they
> would get from the patent pool. This is why I consider H.264 to be a
> higher risk than VP8. The current Motorola lawsuit confirms this.

The Motorola lawsuit does not confirm this at all.  This is nothing but a
fight between those two companies, both of which were likely aware of the
others' IPR here.

You're ignoring one point I made.  Those involved in the creation of H.264
have quite likely filed IPR statements with ISO or ITU.  If some other
company were to come out of the closet on this with something that
blindsides the industry, the industry would fight it.  At the very least,
whatever bit of IPR that is claimed would have to be put into perspective
with respect to the other hundreds of patents on H.264.

H.264 has already become widely deployed.  Work is well underway on H.265
now.  So, there are patent trolls out there, right now is the time to start
filing lawsuits.  And as I said, the reputable companies would have
disclosed IPR and you'd know to talk to them.

VP8 is a technology where nobody other than Google has to answer about IPR.
BT, Oki, France Telecom, Qualcom, Nokia, Microsoft, Sony, NTT, Motorola, TI,
etc. are not obligated to make a statement, yet it would not surprise me in
the least if these companies do not have IPR.  Whether the enforce it is
another matter.  They will only if it is in their interest.

Paul