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Patents The Courts Apple

Audio and Video Patents Haunt Apple and Android 98

FlorianMueller writes "There seems to be no end to those smartphone patent suits. This week's special: audio and video patents that its owners claim are key to formats like MP3 and MPEG 2. The targets: Apple and Android. On Monday, Alcatel-Lucent subsidiary Multimedia Patent Trust filed a patent infringement suit in Southern California against Apple, LG (over 64 different phones including some Android-based ones), Canon and TiVo over four video patents. Fortunately for Apple and LG, none of the patents asserted against those two companies are likely to be in force by the time the judge decides, so there's no risk of an injunction. They may nevertheless have to pay for past damages. The same company once obtained a record $1.5 billion jury verdict against Microsoft but saw it slashed by a judge. And on Tuesday, Hybrid Audio LLC filed a suit in Eastern Texas, asserting a patent against various Apple products and certain Android-based products from HTC and Dell."
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Audio and Video Patents Haunt Apple and Android

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  • Re:MPEG-LA (Score:4, Informative)

    by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Thursday December 23, 2010 @10:47AM (#34651436) Journal
    MPEG-LA explicitly claims to protect you only from its members. As far as I know, they mostly deliver on that. Now, exactly how forthright their salesweasels are about the fact that the MPEG-LA patent pool is not as exhaustive as commonly believed I don't know....
  • by Overzeetop ( 214511 ) on Thursday December 23, 2010 @10:47AM (#34651438) Journal

    The entire trust is managed by IPValue, a firm with nothing but lawyers who look for ways to extract money from others based on their patent portfolio.

    I quote:
    "IPVALUE’s operations are powered by a best-in-class team of experts in IP licensing and negotiations, IP law, business, and technology. Throughout their professional careers, our team members have generated more than $3 billion from IP transactions"

    They don't make anything. You send them your unused or unenforced IP, and they go get you money through licensing or litigation.

    So, yes, I blame the lawyers.

  • by MarkvW ( 1037596 ) on Thursday December 23, 2010 @02:25PM (#34653486)

    Software patents must die. Patents were never designed to protect ideas--especially mathematical ideas and a computer program is a mathematical idea that has been written down.

    Copyright your code, treat it as a trade secret, but don't roadblock other developers from independently deriving their own mathematical ideas, however abstractly expresed. If you have code that you can link to a particular machine of yours, fine. But pure code must be free.

    I see this thing as a ******* free speech issue. Mathematical speech is speech. So long as you're not copying somebody else's ******* speech, then you can say or write whatever the **** you want. This is ******* ******* America and it ****** me the **** off.

  • Re:MPEG-LA (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 23, 2010 @03:11PM (#34653894)

    I am in the middle of this so let me comment. (I am not one of the parties being sued, I offer comment, and all of the below is public knowledge)

    MPT is owned by Alcatel/Lucent. What is important to remember here is that Alcatel is a vendor of video techology as well as a patent owner and a member of MPEG-LA. When Alcatel bought Lucent they formed a company called MPT (multimedia patent trust) that is the warehouse for the patents owned by Lucent at the time. They did this literally days before consummating the deal with Alcatel in an attempt to hide those patents from their legal obligations to MPEG-LA. MPEG-LA called BS on this and counter sued them based on their original agreement with Alcatel which would have Alcatel turn over all essential patents for MPEG-2. Alcatel has done so, but MPEG-LA has no further jurisdiction over Alcatel beyond that original agreement. Most important however is that Alcatel is suing over MPEG-2, and h.264 use of the remaining patents. For MPEG-2 in particular the '377 patent is meaningless because by virtue of the fact that it is not a method used in MPEG-2 and it was not considered 'essential' to MPEG-LA/Alcatel in that lawsuit, so therefore is pretty much junk (filler). The rest of the patents are primarily h.264 related (and would similarly apply to xvid, divx, webm, etc..) so trust me when I say that MPT is far from finished in filing lawsuits. The M.O. of MPT is to contact these companies, offer them a license agreement, and on failure to reach that agreement, they file suit. So far they have filed against all of the major broadcasters based on distribution of media created in violation of those patents (encoding, decoding, collaboration), and now they are after the phone manufacturers (decoding). They are primarily after the large scale players right now but they are far from done.

    As much as you may want to hate on MPEG-LA, this is not their fault, nor is it in their ability to solve. This is the dirtbag company known as Alcatel, the sole beneficiary of this lawsuit, who is creating tremendous amounts of pain here for all of the major players, and at the end of the day, it is a tax that you, the consumer will end up paying one way or another. We need MPEG-LA specifically because it puts an end to bullshit like this, we need for the judge(s) in this case to call enough and force Alcatel to join MPEG-LA otherwise this is going to be a very long, drawn out, and expensive fight that could only possibly benefit Alcatel and for sure will cost you money.

"So why don't you make like a tree, and get outta here." -- Biff in "Back to the Future"