MPEG LA and Google End Legal Flightover VP8, WebM

Posted by at 10:59 am on March 8, 2013

The years-long patent and licensing disagreement between Google and video codec licensing group MPEG LA has concluded. MPEG LA is granting a license to techniques essential to the Google-promoted VP8 video codec (and retroactively to earlier incarnations). The agreement also grants Google the right to sublicense VP8 to any takers of the currently badly adopted codec. As a result of the agreement, MPEG LA will stop trying to develop a VP8 patent pool.

Google originally released VP8 as a “licensing free” alternative to the H.264 video codec. “This is a significant milestone in Google’s efforts to establish VP8 as a widely-deployed web video format,” said Allen Lo, Google’s deputy general counsel for patents. “We appreciate MPEG LA’s cooperation in making this happen.”

The prospect of a legal battle, along with vested interests in existing work and MPEG-LA, has led Apple and Microsoft to deliberately avoid including any WebM support in their own work. Early adopters are so far limited to Google itself as well as open-source advocates unwilling to pay for an H.264 license for web video, such as Mozilla in the Firefox browser and Opera.

No terms of the deal were announced. Patents held by as many as 12 companies and organizations were allegedly violated by Google in the development of WebM and VP8.

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