Google’s VP8/WebM may face patent fight as Apple-backed MPEG-LA considers patent pool

invisibleSHIELD case for iPad“The announcement of Google’s new WebM video format and release of the VP8 video codec as an open standard have been hailed by some as the move that will free the Web from the proprietary H.264 codec widely used for online video today and favored by Apple and Microsoft,” John Paczkowski reports for AllThingsD.

“A new era of Web video without the patent-encumbered formats that have defined the Internet to date. That seems ideal. But like many ideals, it may prove to be unattainable. As a number of observers have already noted VP8 isn’t free from patent liability. And now that Google has open-sourced it as part of WebM, that liability is likely to become an issue,” Paczkowski reports. “And quickly, too.”

Paczkowski reports, “Indeed, Larry Horn, CEO of MPEG LA, the consortium that controls the AVC/H.264 video standard, tells me that the group is already looking at creating a patent pool license for VP8.”

Full article here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Readers “Fred Mertz” and “Lava_Head_UK” for the heads up.]


  1. It’s funny. You’ll need to license H.264 in order to play/encode VP8 legally.
    The question is – why should you use the sub-par VP8 since you need to pay for patent licensing too?

  2. Google is above and doesn’t respect copywrites or patents.

    Since they do no evil they don’t have to trouble themselves with such petty rules. They are a force of good for the world.

  3. This sound eerily similar to Google thinking that they could just publish electronic versions of out-of-print books, even though they were still under copyright. They just rushed in and started doing it without asking anyone’s permission.

  4. Why call it “Apple-backed”?!? Apple has contributed only 1 patent to this patent pool which numbers over 1000. Microsoft has contributed over 100 patents to this pool. If anyone is backing MPEG-LA, it’s Microsoft. Apple put their one patent in so that they can have a voice in the spec. Microsoft put theirs in as a weapon of mass destruction.

  5. The following organizations hold one or more patents in the H.264/AVC patent pool.[4]

    Apple Inc.
    Dolby Laboratories Licensing Corporation
    Electronics and Telecommunications Research Institute
    France Télécom, société anonyme
    Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft zur Förderung der angewandten Forschung e.V.
    Fujitsu Limited
    Hitachi, Ltd.
    Koninklijke Philips Electronics N.V.
    LG Electronics Inc.
    Microsoft Corporation
    Mitsubishi Electric Corporation
    NTT docomo
    Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corporation
    Panasonic Corporation
    Robert Bosch GmbH GmbH
    Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd.
    Scientific-Atlanta Vancouver Company
    Sedna Patent Services, LLC
    Sharp Corporation
    Siemens AG
    Sony Corporation
    The Trustees of Columbia University in the City of New York
    Toshiba Corporation
    Victor Company of Japan, Limited

  6. @anonymous

    FUD much?

    It only requires a single patent to be a member of the pool, for which you are guaranteed a voice, it doesn’t mean Microsoft’s “100” patents ensures them 100 votes/voices.

    Besides, most us would take quality over quantity any day of the week.

  7. This is a good article on the technical patent issues. Much more indepth than the usual blogger crap. Done by someone who actually programs video codecs.

    My favourite quote:

    “But first, a comment on the spec itself.


    And here he gets into the patent issue:

    “VP8’s intra prediction is basically ripped off wholesale from H.264: the “subblock” prediction modes are almost exactly identical (they even have the same names!) to H.264’s i4×4 mode”

    ” In short, it seems to have been released too early: it would have been better off to have an initial period during which revisions could be submitted and then a big announcement later when it’s completed.”

    What?! Google rushing to market with a half finished ill thought out product without thorough testing?! Not google, not them ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”wink” style=”border:0;” /> <sarcasm off>

    it’s nearly as good as h264, cos it’s a poor copy.

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