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Re: MP3 decoder packaged with XMMS

On 7/13/05, Raul Miller <moth.debian@gmail.com> wrote:
> It's difficult to create JPEG image rendering software without using
> technologies described by MP3 patents.

So do tell us where MP3 patents fit -- what patents, which claims, and
what part of JPEG compression?  None of the patents discussed below is
part of the Fraunhofer / Thomson or Philips / Sisvel / Audio MPEG

Let's start with http://www.w3.org/Graphics/JPEG/AnnexL.html , which
was long generally considered an exhaustive list of the patents
remotely applicable to JPEG, none of which has been claimed against
baseline JFIF compression in fourteen years of commercial use (at
least ten of ubiquity).  Seven of the ten patents originally listed in
Annex L were assigned to IBM.  (Note that #4,725,884 is actually an
irrelevant patent entitled "Optical Metrology"; the Gonzales,
Mitchell, Pennebaker patent is #4,725,885.)  Two were assigned to AT&T
Bell Labs.  The last was originally granted in Japan and assigned to
Mitsubishi; its US equivalent is #5,311,177.

Subsequent disputes have arisen based on other patents -- see
http://www.jpeg.org/newsrel1.html -- but I for one am not impressed. 
The principal aggressor in current JPEG litigation is the successor to
Compression Labs, Inc. (among others) -- now a blatant IP litigation
shell company called Forgent Networks, with a textbook pump-and-dump
stock swindle attached.  (That's my own unqualified judgment; but
check out their web site and Google "forgent networks stock".  See
also http://www.aspnetresources.com/blog/forgent_jpeg_saga.aspx and
references therein.)  IANAL, TINLA, etc. -- and it's also not
investment advice.

Forgent's suits have been consolidated (perhaps not including a later
one against Microsoft) and seem to be headed for a swift death (well,
swift as these things go) at the hands of the Honorable Phyllis J.
Hamilton of the Northern District of California.  (I prophesy that
Godwin Gruber LLP is going to regret taking this client.)  That
litigation is principally about #4,698,672 -- not in the Annex L list
-- which a quick review persuades me is a comically trivial tweak to
#4,302,775 (expired).

There are actually two more patents mentioned in the current edition
of Annex L: one assigned to IBM and replacing #4,725,885, plus
#4,665,436.  I would humbly put the latter in a category with my own
patent: part algorithm and part circuit description, clever in its
adaptation to painfully tight resource constraints, funded by an
incorrigible cowboy operator, impossible to evaluate its applicability
to MPEG without litigation.  Doubtless, if it had not been permitted
to expire for lack of maintenance payment in 1999, it would also be in
the portfolio of a similar make-money-fast-with-lawsuits company, as
would mine.

(While you're at it, check out #5,533,051, which appears to contain
the only other reference within Google's reach to that "Optical
Metrology" patent.  Not only is it a variant of perpetual motion, the
applicant cut and pasted his prior art references from places like
Annex L, and the examiner didn't check them.  I would not trade places
with Mr. Scott A. Rogers for all the tea in China.  Did I mention
that, given the potential cost of litigating an obviously stupid
patent, the USPTO is hard to defend for more reasons than just
corporate 0wn3rship?)

- Michael

P. S.  See also http://www.faqs.org/faqs/compression-faq/part1/section-7.html .

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