Re: [rtcweb] Proposal for H.263 baseline codec

Silvia Pfeiffer <> Mon, 02 April 2012 05:28 UTC

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From: Silvia Pfeiffer <>
Date: Sun, 01 Apr 2012 22:28:34 -0700
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To: "Paul E. Jones" <>
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Subject: Re: [rtcweb] Proposal for H.263 baseline codec
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Note that H.264 isn't even under discussion here.

Also, my question on H.263 hasn't been answered yet. I do wonder about
the patent situation there!


On Sun, Apr 1, 2012 at 8:56 PM, Paul E. Jones <> wrote:
> Stephan,
>> The most commonly cited timeline for a widely in use technology to be
>> "save" from a patent viewpoint, based on equitable defenses such as laches
>> (in the US) is six years.  In some countries of significant size, this
>> time is longer, and in others, equitable defenses do not exist.  (Very
>> briefly, and perhaps incorrectly put, those equitable defenses allow a
>> defendant to argue successfully that a patent cannot be enforced as the
>> right holder knew that the patent claim was likely being infringed, and
>> did not enforce the patent.).
> Recall that Unisys forced people to pay royalties for using the GIF file
> format long after it became widely popular.  The company asserted IPR claims
> on GIF since it used a compression algorithm to which it acquired the
> rights, and it started doing so right near the end of the 20-year period
> during which a patent is considered valid.
> In short, I really do not think one should ever assume it might be safe to
> use any technology.
>> In addition, as I pointed out in the meeting, the use of a video codec
>> created by a body such as MPEG or ITU-T SG16 has the advantage of that the
>> patents of all participating players are available at least under
>> Reasonable and Non Discriminatory (RAND) terms.  This may sound like a Bad
>> Thing if you operate under a business model that prevents you to pay
>> anything for patent licenses, but it is surely a Good Thing if you are
>> willing to dish out a moderate amount of money for a license.  RAND
>> recently has gotten teeth, not so much in terms of the monetary
>> compensation aspect, but in terms of difficulty (if not unavailability) to
>> obtain injunctive relive, among others.  H.26x and the MPEG standards
>> benefit from RAND commitments, VP8, AFAIK, does not.
> I believe your point here is perhaps worth even more consideration.
> I really know nothing about the IPR that exists or might be claimed on VP8.
> That said, I know there has such an incredible amount of work by so many
> companies to produce H.264 that I would be utterly surprised to find that
> VP8 does not infringe on something.  All of the technology that went into
> H.264 represents only a subset of all of the IPR that exists in the video
> coding space.
> It's the rest of the IPR, a bunch of IPR owned by companies who actually
> have significant investment in video coding technologies, that I believe
> people should worry about.  Everyone who worked on H.264 did so as part of
> an open standards process, as you mention above.  They spent a lot of time
> and energy in the process, coming to an agreement to license the technology
> that went into H.264.  They did not agree to license technology that did not
> go into H.264.  So, if one of those participating companies were to
> subsequently sue over some IPR used in VP8, I would not dare call them a
> troll.
> Trolls always exist and may even lay claims to H.264, but I suspect it would
> be much harder for a troll to lay claim to H.264.  That codec spent years in
> development with input from tons of people.  If a troll were to come in and
> lay claim to some part of H.264, I suspect there would be several companies
> that would stand up and beat them down.  After all, a claim against H.264
> would not only present a problem for the defendant in a lawsuit, but would
> be an issue for every company with IPR on H.264.  Further, no matter what
> part of H.264 such a troll might decide to pick on, there are a number of
> world-class engineers who (as you indicated about H.263) could probably name
> the person or persons who contributed the section of text, algorithm,
> procedure, etc., all of which is covered with a known license.
> VP8 does not have the benefit of such significant peer review and
> collaboration, nor does it benefit from any IPR licensing agreements from
> legitimate companies holding tons of video coding-related IPR.
> Paul
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