MPEG LA, LLC has announced that a group of 25 companies have agreed on HEVC license terms expected to issue as part of an HEVC Patent Portfolio License in early 2014. High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC, also known as H.265 and MPEG-H Part 2) is a standard designed to improve video coding efficiency for the benefit of Internet and mobile service providers and consumers with increased speed and capacity. HEVC is also expected to deliver next generation higher resolution HDTV video displays for 4K and 8K Ultra High Definition TV (“UHDTV”). “As contemplated, the HEVC license will utilize a modern streamlined pool licensing approach with simple easy-to-understand terms making the technology readily accessible to the largest possible market in the shortest possible time,” said MPEG LA President and CEO Larry Horn. “MPEG LA salutes the cooperation of patent owners who have worked hard to reach common ground in making a joint patent license available for the convenience of HEVC adopters. As a result of their efforts, consumers benefiting from a marketplace of competitive technology choices will be the clear winners”. As work continues on evaluating patents for essentiality and concluding terms in final agreements, the license is currently supported by 25 prospective HEVC essential patent holders including Apple Inc., Cisco Technology Inc., Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft, Hitachi Maxell ltd., JVC Kenwood corp., LG Electronics inc. and NEC corp. In its effort to include as much essential intellectual property as possible in one license for the benefit of the marketplace, MPEG LA continues to welcome the submission of issued patents for an evaluation of their essentiality to the HEVC Standard.
The escalating war between technology companies over intellectual property, that has already swept up the smartphone and tablet sectors and high-tech stalwarts such as Apple Inc., Microsoft Corp., Motorola Mobility Holdings Inc., Samsung, RIM, and others, reaches the social media stage.
Yahoo says it owns patents for as many as 20 technologies used by Facebook, that include online advertising social networking, privacy controlling, and messaging. “Yahoo has a responsibility to its shareholders, employees and other stakeholders to protect its intellectual property. We must insist that Facebook either enter into a licensing agreement or we will be compelled to move forward unilaterally to protect our rights” the company said. Patent fights are nothing new in Silicon Valley, with the realm of smartphones having become the most visible backdrop for such battles. Google paid $12.5 billion for Motorola Mobility last year largely to get access to the phone maker’s intellectual property. And a consortium of companies led by Apple and Microsoft paid $4.5 billion for more than 6,000 patents held by Nortel, the defunct communications equipment maker.
Another interesting patent application coming out of Apple yesterday. It’s one of a hybrid e-Paper/Video iOS display.
The patent application is related to a next generation iPhone that would effectively offer us a smart hybrid display that could switch between a standard LCD and an e-Paper display. In fact, it’s so smart that the display could actually subdivide itself into quadrants that could intelligently switch display types depending on the content that the user is running.
E-Ink displays have been popular on early eReaders such as the Amazon Kindle. E-Ink displays are unbacklit high resolution displays that offer superior readability in direct sunlight. Amazon even ran TV ads promoting this feature over Apple’s iPad. Fans of e-Ink also claim the displays are less fatiguing on the eyes over long periods of reading.
Apple’s new research into a hybrid e-Ink/Video display is reminiscent of technology from 3Qi who also offers a dual-mode LCD screen that offers both reflective e-ink as well as a the traditional emissive video mode.
US District Judge Leonard Davis threw out a US$625.5 million patent infringement verdict against Apple involving its Cover Flow, Time Machine and Spotlight technology for the Mac.
In 2008, Mirror Worlds filed a patent infringement lawsuit accusing Apple of infringing on four of the company’s patents for a “document stream operating system” and its associated information management system. The lawsuit cited Apple’s Cover Flow interface, its backup application Time Machine and its search application Spotlight. Mirror Worlds received its four patents before it disbanded in 2003.
In October 2010, a judge in East Texas Federal Court sided with Mirror Worlds and awarded the now defunct company $625.5 million in damages ($208.5 million per patent). Apple appealed this ruling and argued that Mirror Worlds’ patents were invalid because the company failed to cite prior art and filed the patents incorrectly.
The Texas judge disagreed with Apple’s patent claims and upheld Mirror Worlds’ patents as valid. In a decision favorable to Apple, however, he ruled that Apple was not liable for damages. Mirror Worlds apparently failed to prove Apple used the same underlying technology for its implementation of Cover Flow, Time Machine and Spotlight. Without this “requisite foundational support,” the original lawsuit award was rejected and Apple no longer has to pony up the cash.
Microsoft, Apple, EMC and Oracle are continuing to pursue a deal for Novell’s patents that will let the four companies split the patents four ways and immunize themselves from any potential lawsuits. The deal, which is pending review before U.S. and German authorities, has been changed slightly because of concerns raised by the nonprofit Open Source Initiative and other parties.
As Novell undergoes a $2.2 billion acquisition by Attachmate, 882 patents are in the process of being sold to a consortium called CPTN Holdings, consisting of Microsoft, Apple, EMC and Oracle.
The Open Source Initiative says it received notice from German competition authorities at the Federal Cartel Office that CPTN is asking permission to proceed with the patent portfolio acquisition but with new conditions.
“CPTN will now only exist for long enough to distribute the shares equally among the participants in the transaction (no more than three months), and thus will not form a new long-term patent troll itself,” Open Source Initiative President Michael Tiemann writes in a blog post. “All parties to the transaction will retain a license to the full Novell patent portfolio, thus immunizing themselves from patent actions with the shares they do not hold.”
Further, “Microsoft will sell its 25 percent share of the patents on to Attachmate and retain only a license to the portfolio,” and EMC’s share of the patents will not include any related to virtualization. That is likely because of EMC’s ownership of VMware.
“Notably, the terms of the transaction seem to have been significantly changed, apparently in response to concerns like the ones OSI expressed at the start of the year,” Tiemann writes. “OSI is very pleased that the FCO has been clear about the transaction with CPTN and congratulates them on continuing to consider the overall health of the evolving software market and not just the concerns of the existing dominant players.”
On another positive note, the Open Source Initiative said Microsoft’s reduced participation in the deal ensures that “Microsoft does not itself become a greater threat to the open source community than they already are.”
But the OSI still has concerns about the deal which it says could turn Novell’s patent portfolio “into a weapon against open source software.” The OSI sent German authorities a response which outlines its continuing concerns.
Despite the positive steps in the case of Microsoft, the OSI still faulted the deal for not requiring Microsoft to provide a patent license to the open source community before handing the patents back to Attachmate.
Oracle may use Novell patents to disrupt open source competitors in the markets for operating systems, middleware, virtualization and mobile applications and platforms, the OSI also said. Regarding Apple, the OSI raised concerns about Apple using patents to challenge Android.
“Both Apple and Oracle could address these concerns by stipulating fully-paid, world-wide, royalty free licenses to any software covered by an OSI-approved license,” the open source group said.
The patent deal is also being examined in the United States by the Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division. Last month, Novell said in a Security and Exchange Commission filing that antitrust authorities requested “additional time to review the patent sale,” which may not close until at least April 12.