Monday, April 16, 2007

Microsoft mugged over VC-1 codec patent terms

From the Register: Microsoft mugged over VC-1 codec patent terms

If you can take technojargon, this one is well worth a read and beautifully illustrative of the power of the patent process to interfere with the development of technology. It covers digital audio visual standards relating to which 16 different companies hold 125 separate patents.

"Effectively Microsoft has been mugged by the attempt to make its VC-1 technology a standard through the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers. In so doing it had to reveal how its codec technology worked, and offer a license, and in going to the respected MPEG LA as a patent pool agent, it exposed its technology to all the know how that went into licensing the MPEG 2 and MPEG 4 Level 10 AVC/H.264 codec that has stolen the market.

Usually all of the combatants (essential patent holders) will argue for some basis or other for splitting the royalty stream, and these rules are not public and they are not always the same. But as a general principle the more patents you hold, the bigger your slice of the patent pool pie. Now that’s not absolute, but it can be an indicator."

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