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

Silvia Pfeiffer <> Thu, 05 April 2012 21:34 UTC

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From: Silvia Pfeiffer <>
Date: Fri, 06 Apr 2012 07:33:41 +1000
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To: "Paul E. Jones" <>
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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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On Fri, Apr 6, 2012 at 4:50 AM, Paul E. Jones <> wrote:
>> > 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?
> 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.

So what's the point in having the patent pool if you have to talk to
all the individual patent owners anyway?

>> > 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?

You might be surprised about the usage - a substantial amount of games
use Vorbis because they don't have to pay for a license. Indeed, it is
well known that Microsoft's Halo used Vorbis. For that very reason, I
doubt that any of those companies acquired a patent license from any
company claiming to own a patent on Vorbis or Speex. In fact, since
nobody has claimed to have such patents, how would you even know who
to license it from?

>  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.)

Existing lawsuits are the only quantitative measure that is available
to find out about whether somebody is prepared to fight for their
patents on a technology. Even patent pools don't work for this,

>> 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.

If somebody was to come out of the woodworks over VP8, I'd expect
Google to fight them. And all the other companies that have now
invested into VP8. I don't think patents mean anything when it comes
to the decision of whether to fight a patent claim or not: money

> 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.

If they've decided to use VP8, they license makes them take choose
sides. There's no need for a patent pool to force them to take sides
(in fact, that doesn't seem to have worked for Motorola and Microsoft