Google’s WebM Patent Still in Question by MPEG-LA Group

Posted by at 4:56 pm on February 12, 2011

Google’s WebM video format may face renewed challenges from the MPEG-LA group. MPEG-LA is asking members for any instances in which a member company believes one of the VP8 format patents behind WebM might have violated its patents. It hopes to streamline creating a joint license that it could offer for “essential” patents.

Any firm getting involved has to show at least one essential patent and to send in the first wave of claims by March 18.

The call look to be part of claims by MPEG-LA that it doesn’t believe WebM is patent-free and showed it was now collecting evidence to prove that the format, bought up with Google’s acquisition of On2, was violating patents it owned. It has previously argued that there are similarities between WebM and H.264 that implied On2 might have copied H.264 in some areas before the Google handover.

Google has tried to argue that VP8 and WebM were designed to avoid patents. Critics think Google is making a flawed correlation between open licensing and being royalty-free.

Members of the MPEG-LA group include Apple and Microsoft, both of whom have refused to support WebM unless its patent situation was clear. Google has tried to promote WebM by pulling native H.264 support from its Chrome browser, but its only main allies so far are fellow browser developers Mozilla and Opera. WebM so far hasn’t been supported in camcorders or other devices outside of recent Android phones.

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