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149 comments

yea! (-1)

Libertarian001 (453712) | more than 3 years ago | (#35379034)

Of all the abusive monopolies they choose to go after, this is who they pick? Facepalm. Well, it's a start. I guess someone was late on their campaign donations.

Re:yea! (1)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 3 years ago | (#35379096)

This is the Google Department of Justice (beta). Unfortunately, they'll probably get bored in a couple months and move on to something shinier.

Re:yea! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35379142)

This one affects other corporations though, not us citizen scrubs, so its automatically higher importance.

Re:yea! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35379150)

Of all the abusive monopolies they choose to go after, this is who they pick?

It's hard to think of a more clear cut example of supposed business rivals getting together to agree and enforce a common price. To top that off with efforts to shoot down VP8 really takes the biscuit. Most cartels are more subtle than this (De Beers and OPEC excepted, but they're beyond the DOJ's reach).

Re:yea! (2)

countertrolling (1585477) | more than 3 years ago | (#35380000)

It's hard to think of a more clear cut example of supposed business rivals getting together to agree and enforce a common price.

Price fixing is a time honored practice in many industries. oil, steel, railroads, airlines and communications, all run by pirates who do challenge each other for top position, like in any other herd or flock of animals, but will never work against the whole..

Re:yea! (1, Interesting)

DJRumpy (1345787) | more than 3 years ago | (#35380190)

Except there is no price being discussed. The article sums it up nicely at the end:

"All video codecs are covered by patents," Mr. Jobs wrote. "Unfortunately, just because something is open-source, it doesn't mean or guarantee that it doesn't infringe on others patents."

If MPEG-LA believes that VP8 infringes, then they are well within their rights to question it. The OpenSource folks, of which slashdot has a majority, seem to think that all patents are evil. I tend to think both sides have merit, and neither would do well without the other. If Google believes that simply questioning whether or not a patent infringes is anti-competitive, then they have a long road to haul. That said, it does seem like MPEG-LA is dragging this out longer than necessary. Although it's conceivable that they could still be gathering information at this stage, surely they have enough preliminary data at this point to make a legal case (or not).

I suspect this latest bruhaha is just to put pressure on MPEG-LA to put up or shut up.

Re:yea! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35380414)

If MPEG-LA believes that VP8 infringes, then they are well within their rights to question it.

Lawsuits cost money. Especially when your opponent has a bottomless pit of it too.
FUD & idle threats is cheap and effective.

Re:yea! (2)

boorack (1345877) | more than 3 years ago | (#35380512)

MPEG-LA does not believe VP8 infringes any of their patents, so they tried building/buying up a patent portfolio specifically to go after VP8. This is clearly anti-competitive and propably illegal. I personally think it is an act of extortion and MPEG-LA executives should be charged under RICO laws. But I'm not a lawyer and US justice system seems to do more to cover corporate executives (knowingly) illegal activities than to ensure justice overall. It 2008 financial crisis fiasco does not show that clearly than I don't know what is.

Re:yea! (4, Insightful)

skids (119237) | more than 3 years ago | (#35380724)

Missing the point. This is an anti-trust suit. A trust is when companies that should be competing conspire for monopolistic powers/purposes. If individual patent holders were behaving in a free-market way, they would each challenge individually, giving google the ability to pick and choose which patents to license or give royalties to, should anyone actually have an unexpired patent that pertains. Google would also have to option of altering VP8 to not infringe on any patents held by people who were asking too high a price. Doing so would require knowing the price.

Instead, we have the formation of a cartel that plans to bundle all patents together so the holders are no longer competing, but form an illegal trust. Granted it is probably a toothless one without any actual infringed patents -- but whether or not they actually have any goods is still unknown, so it doesn't matter -- the legal situation must be treated as if they do in fact have infringing patents, since it is their express purpose to gather them.

in the meantime they are using the prospect of this bloc of patent holders as a basis to go out and make declarative public statements before actually producing any evidence that they actually have any patents that were infringed. As they have done such, they may be already guilty of anti-trust behavior, because they have utilized the common asset of their bluff.

Re:yea! (3, Informative)

tlhIngan (30335) | more than 3 years ago | (#35381120)

Missing the point. This is an anti-trust suit. A trust is when companies that should be competing conspire for monopolistic powers/purposes. If individual patent holders were behaving in a free-market way, they would each challenge individually, giving google the ability to pick and choose which patents to license or give royalties to, should anyone actually have an unexpired patent that pertains. Google would also have to option of altering VP8 to not infringe on any patents held by people who were asking too high a price. Doing so would require knowing the price.

Instead, we have the formation of a cartel that plans to bundle all patents together so the holders are no longer competing, but form an illegal trust. Granted it is probably a toothless one without any actual infringed patents -- but whether or not they actually have any goods is still unknown, so it doesn't matter -- the legal situation must be treated as if they do in fact have infringing patents, since it is their express purpose to gather them.

in the meantime they are using the prospect of this bloc of patent holders as a basis to go out and make declarative public statements before actually producing any evidence that they actually have any patents that were infringed. As they have done such, they may be already guilty of anti-trust behavior, because they have utilized the common asset of their bluff.

Actually, companies are free to implement h.264 WITHOUT involving the MPEG-LA. It's just that the company is now responsible for dealing with licensing the 1000+ patents from everyone themselves.

All the MPEG-LA does is provide a generic license of "Pay us $X per device and you'll be licensed to use all these patents". You are free to go after each and every patent holder separately.

Of course, there are advantages to going with MPEG-LA than doing it yourself, notably, dealing with 1000+ legal agreements is pretty difficult and time-consuming, and there's no guarantee that you can get it cheaper. Also, if you're dealing with one of your major competitors, they could simply deny you a license, or charge extra for it (MPEG-LA licensing is RAND).

Of course, I don't know what the MPEG-LA licenses are like, but they could also include clauses that say the license is only valid for h.264, and other codecs using the same things (VP8 is supposed to allow use of the same blocks has h.264) could very well require extra licensing because that block's license terms only cover h.264, not VP8, h.265, SuperCoolCodec, or whatever. This is less about the software decoders, but the hardware accellerators you'll need for VP8 to be used in mobile devices.

End result could very well be that you're paying for an h.264 license in order to do hardware accellerated VP8 decode.

Re:yea! (1)

DJRumpy (1345787) | more than 3 years ago | (#35381306)

Exactly. That is the entire benefit of a patent pool so they don't have to deal with every legal patent, but rather get a blank package.

Re:yea! (3, Informative)

Anthony Mouse (1927662) | more than 3 years ago | (#35381522)

If MPEG-LA believes that VP8 infringes, then they are well within their rights to question it.

I don't think that's the issue. It isn't that if someone has a patent that reads on VP8 they aren't allowed to enforce it. It's that the people who control the rights to VP8's primary competitor are trying to gain control over rights to VP8.

Re:yea! (2)

miffo.swe (547642) | more than 3 years ago | (#35379158)

I agree, in this case they should have gone straight for the root cause, Microsoft and Apple.

Their attempt at strangling VP8 by trying to build a pool of patent to sue the one owning it are by far the worst case of anticompetitive behavior i have seen since the browser wars.

Re:yea! (-1)

theaveng (1243528) | more than 3 years ago | (#35379234)

A desire to protect one's patented product from being copied (example: Apple going after Hackintosh clone manufacturers) is not indicative of a Monopoly or abuse of said monopoly. It's simply defense of one's work/intellectual property from being stolen.

This DOJ investigation simply has no basis to exist.

Re:yea! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35379538)

And if they truly believe that, their free to sue Google and/or all users of VP8 for patent infringement. What they're not allowed to do (and what spurred this investigation) is to spread FUD about patent infringement without filing any sort of lawsuit in and effort to prevent adoption of a competitors product without the requirement of actually proving infringement. Believe it or not, you probably don't know more about monopoly law than the DOJ.

Re:yea! (1)

theaveng (1243528) | more than 3 years ago | (#35379564)

>>>What they're not allowed to do (and what spurred this investigation) is to spread FUD about patent infringement

Really???
Which law prevent a corporation from doing that? Quote it to me.
Please and thank you.

Re:yea! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35380076)

So patents are monopolies. MPEG-LA is using their/members/potential members patents (monopolies) to inhibit competition.
What the DOJ is doing is investigating whether the conduct of the MPEG-LA violates anti-trust (or other federal) laws. They haven't been charged with anything (yet). The DoJ can investigate a monopoly or a multi-firm contract, conspiracy, or trust to determine whether they are engaging in conduct that is restraining trade in an unreasonable manner. So if the DoJ determines that MPEG-LA pulling together patents to file against a competitor or spreading potential FUD about the potential presence of non-Google owned patents in an attempt to kill the product is unreasonable, they can then bring a lawsuit against them, where a judge will have to decide the matter. It is not like the DoJ says "you're a bad monopoly" and you automatically have to pay millions in fines, there's a due process to this insanity like it or not.

>>>Which law prevent a corporation from doing that? Quote it to me.
The sherman antitrust act allows for action against monopolies conduct themselves in a manner that unreasonably restricts trade/commerce across the states.

Re:yea! (1)

theaveng (1243528) | more than 3 years ago | (#35382170)

>>>The sherman...monopolies...unreasonably restricts trade

That's NOT the question I asked. The question I asked was: Which law prevents a corporation from "spreading FUD about patent infringement"? Quote it to me. Please and thank you.

Re:yea! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35381136)

There's obviously no explicit law against spreading FUD (except perhaps false advertising). However, clearly the DOJ considers this particular act a possible violation of the Sherman Antitrust Act. I'll clarify for you and the rest of the 12 year old assholes on Slashdot who continuously don't get this: LOTS OF THINGS THAT AREN'T NORMALLY ILLEGAL BECOME ILLEGAL IF YOU ARE A MONOPOLY. Monopolies in and of themselves are not illegal. However, when we determine that a company has a monopoly on a particular market, we place a lot of extra rules and restrictions on them to make sure they don't abuse the power that comes with being a monopoly.

Re:yea! (1)

theaveng (1243528) | more than 3 years ago | (#35382262)

Here let me save some time: "Which law prevents a corporation from 'spreading FUD about patent infringement'?"

NONE. Commercial speech is protected by the first amendment. Companies can not lie, but they can certainly spread fear, uncertainty, and doubt about competitor's products. (Almost every car commercial does it several times per hour.)

Re:yea! (1)

king neckbeard (1801738) | more than 3 years ago | (#35379906)

'Intellectual property' can't be stolen, and in this case, Google tried very, very hard to get a decent royalty free codec to the market. If they can't, that's a sure sign that MPEG-LA and it's members are practically working as a cartel. It's also worth noting that this isn't the first time the antitrust action against MPEG-LA has been called for.

Re:yea! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35379284)

I agree, in this case they should have gone straight for the root cause, Microsoft and Apple.

Their attempt at strangling VP8 by trying to build a pool of patent to sue the one owning it are by far the worst case of anticompetitive behavior i have seen since the browser wars.

Bullshit. Neither company stands to make much money from their MPEG-LA patents. Nor do they stand to gain much from "lock-in," since they are, after all, blindly licensing away these patents in a pool.

Yes they do. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35380658)

Yes they do. MS get rid of Linux, Apple get rid of Android.

Or don't you think that having competing products in the field reduces their profits?

Re:Yes they do. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35381706)

It doesn't get rid of Linux. Linux can run H.264.

You can't be a purist about patents and do H.264 at this time though -- but it's not monopoly abuse. That's Linux intentionally self-selecting out of a competitive advantage. So there's nothing to attack (on this particular subject with this particular rationale) in Microsoft or Apple. MPEG-LA is another story.

Re:Yes they do. (1)

king neckbeard (1801738) | more than 3 years ago | (#35381894)

h.264 patent licensing is incompatible with being legally freely distributed. It gets in the way of the FOSS model, and there's a decent argument that FOSS is the only threat to Microsoft on the desktop. If something is a hurdle to your only real competitor, it can be in your interest for that hurdle to be large, even if it's slightly harmful to your business.

Re:yea! (2)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 3 years ago | (#35379302)

I agree, in this case they should have gone straight for the root cause, Microsoft and Apple.

Microsoft and Apple are two of the largest members of the MPEG-LA. They are the two best-known by the public. Going after MPEG-LA very much is going after Microsoft and Apple, but it's also going after all the other criminals involved in this extortion racket at the same time. I consider that to be positive.

Re:yea! (1, Informative)

KingMotley (944240) | more than 3 years ago | (#35379878)

Hmm... The two best-known? I think the following companies would like to argue that point:
Cisco Systems
Dolby Laboratories Licensing Corporation
Fujitsu Limited
Hewlett-Packard Company
Hitachi, Ltd.
Koninklijke Philips Electronics N.V.
LG Electronics Inc.
Mitsubishi Electric Corporation
Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corporation
Panasonic Corporation
Robert Bosch GmbH*
Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd.
Sharp Corporation
Siemens AG
Sony Corporation
Toshiba Corporation

Re:yea! (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 3 years ago | (#35380142)

Most people have no idea what most of those companies make... Sony is right up there too, but these days they definitely lack the cachet of Apple. Hilarious!

Re:yea! (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 3 years ago | (#35380612)

Most people have no idea what most of those companies make

Dolby has something to do with movies: see "Dolby Digital" that used to be shown before movies back when it was new. LG, Panasonic, Philips, Samsung, Sharp, and (as you mentioned) Sony are familiar from the TV aisle at Best Buy or Walmart.

Re:yea! (1)

lxs (131946) | more than 3 years ago | (#35380790)

I don't know. My Bosch cordless drill is pretty nifty and Siemens makes everything from phones to trains.

Re:yea! (1)

omfgnosis (963606) | more than 3 years ago | (#35381508)

And babies. Wait, that's not right.

Re:yea! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35381910)

I really don't think so. Nippon Telegraph and Telephone, and maybe Bosch are unfamiliar. I'm not sure about Bosch. The rest are all household names (maybe not in long form -- I didn't know about "Koninklijke", but I sure knew Philips and it was the same Philips). I couldn't tell you all the things they sell, but then, I couldn't tell you all the things Microsoft sells either.

You can answer "TVs" for most of those and people recognize TV brands, if for no other reason, because they look at TVs all the time, and they all have a brand label.

Re:yea! (2)

AliasMarlowe (1042386) | more than 3 years ago | (#35379188)

Of all the abusive monopolies they choose to go after, this is who they pick?

They've got to start small and work their way up (one can hope). After all, they're really out of practice - the big cartels and abusive monpopolies would eat the DoJ for breakfast.

Re:yea! (1)

theaveng (1243528) | more than 3 years ago | (#35380126)

Out of practice? Hardly.

The 2004 DOJ didn't have any problem going after the CD Cartel (for price-fixing), and forcing them to refund money to overcharged customers.

Re:yea! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35379540)

Listen, I've been around the block a few times, so to speak. I know that the DoJ is between a rock and a hard place when it comes to matters like investigating monopolies. The fact of the matter is, is that the American people like monopolies and huge conglomerates dominating their consumerist lives. Hell, many Americans would actually prefer these huge corporations and trusts to rule all aspects of their lives, from morning till night. When our lives revolve around feeding our minds with info-tainment and games and gossip, what matters most is that the supply of those things never runs out. The monopolies and conglomerates that are out there are a necessity, like it or not. We've entered a new era in human society, especially in the "Western", technologica world.

In the immortal words of Nelson (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35379042)

HaHa

Patent Pools (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35379060)

Anti-competitive? No way!

\o/ (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35379080)

yeah

\o/

Settlers of Catan (5, Funny)

hoggoth (414195) | more than 3 years ago | (#35379164)

When the parties come to a quiet settlement out of the public eye, I can't wait for Thomas Catan's headline: "Settlers of Catan"

babys; freemasons, your 'math' suks (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35379256)

there's already several billion babys. how many freemasons? we'll have a vote then? how many babys is the 'correct' number to be in perfect balance with 'nature'? there's a powerful sentiment/intention afoot that those 'nature's' accountants? need to scratch that .5b # off their mistaken 'stone', right away. the bips stopped reading after that first 'commandment'. if there's more errors on there, might as well demolish it, & build an accurate one. could make a million baby play-date out of that project. see you there?
By Carl Teichrib:

The Georgia Guidestones, a massive granite edifice planted in the Georgia countryside, contains a list of ten new commandments for Earth's(?) citizens. The first commandment, and the one which concerns this article, simply states; Maintain humanity under 500,000,000 in perpetual balance with nature.

double yikes!@#$

Robert Walker, former chair of PepsiCo and Proctor & Gamble on water:

Water is a gift of nature. Its delivery is not. It must be priced to insure it is used sustainably.

Mikhail Gorbachev:

We must speak more clearly about sexuality, contraception, about abortion, about values that control population, because the ecological crisis, in short, is the population crisis. Cut the population by 90% and there arenâ€t enough people left to do a great deal of ecological damage.â€

Jacques Cousteau UNESCO Courier 1991:

In order to save the planet it would be necessary to kill 350,000 people per day.

Jacques Cousteau, Population: Opposing Viewpoints:

If we want our precarious endeavor to succeed, we must convince all human beings to participate in our adventure, and we must urgently find solutions to curb the population explosion that has a direct influence on the impoverishment of the less-favoured communities. Otherwise, generalized resentment will beget hatred, and the ugliest genocide imaginable, involving billions of people, will become unavoidable.

Uncontrolled population growth and poverty must not be fought from inside, from Europe, from North America, or any nation or group of nations; it must be attacked from the outside & by international agencies helped in the formidable job by competent and totally non-governmental organizations.

David Rockefeller: Memoirs 2002 Founder of the CFR:

We wield over American political and economical institutions. Some even believe we are part of a secret cabal working against the best interests of the United States, characterizing my family and me as â€internationalists†and of conspiring with others around the world to build a more integrated global political structure, one world, if you will. If thatâ€s the charge, I stand guilty, and I am proud of it.
David Rockefeller, Co-founder of the Trilateral Commission:

We are grateful to The Washington Post, The New York Times, Time Magazine & other great publications whose directors have attended our meetings and respected their promise of discretion for almost 40 years. It would have been impossible for us to develop our plans for the world if we had been subject to the bright lights of publicity during those years. But, the world is now much more sophisticated and prepared to march towards a world government. Thomas Ferguson, the Latin American Case Officer for the State Departmentâ€s Office of Population Affairs (OPA) (now the US State Dept. Office of Population Affairs, est. by Henry Kissinger in 1975): There is a single theme behind all our work -we must reduce population levels, said Thomas Ferguson, the Latin American case officer for the State Departmentâ€s Office of Population Affairs (OPA). Either they [governments] do it our way, through nice clean methods or they will get the kind of mess that we have in El Salvador, or in Iran, or in Beirut. Population is a political problem. Once population is out of control it requires authoritarian government, even fascism, to reduce it. The professionals, said Ferguson, arenâ€t interested in lowering population for humanitarian reasons. That sounds nice. We look at resources and environmental constraints. We look at our strategic needs, and we say that this country must lower its population -or else we will have trouble.

So steps are taken. El Salvador is an example where our failure to lower population by simple means has created the basis for a national security crisis. The government of El Salvador failed to use our programs to lower their population. Now they get a civil war because of it…. There will be dislocation and food shortages. They still have too many people there. (1981)

Aldous Huxley, Lecture named Population Explosion 1959:

…Let us ask ourselves what the practical alternatives are as we confront this problem of population growth. One alternative is to do nothing in particular about it and just let things go on as they are…The question is: Are we going to restore the balance in the natural way, which is a brutal and entirely anti-human way, or are we going to restore it in some intelligent, rational, and humane way…Try to increase production as much as possible and at the same time try to re-establish the balance between the birth rate by means less gruesome than those which are used by nature & by intelligent and human methods?…There are colossal difficulties in the way of implementing any large-scale policy of limitation of population; whereas death control is extremely easy under modern circumstances, birth control is extremely difficult. The reason is very simple: death control & the control, for example, of infectious diseases & can be accomplished by a handful of experts and quite a small labour force of unskilled persons and requires a very small capital expenditure.

Barry Commoner, Making Peace with the Planet:

There have been â€triage†proposals that would condemn whole nations to death through some species of global â€benign neglectâ€. There have been schemes for coercing people to curtail their fertility, by physical and legal means that are ominously left unspecified. Now we are told that we must curtail rather than extend our efforts to feed the hungry peoples of the world. Where will it end? Secretary of Defense William S. Cohen, April 28, 1997, Testimony before Congressional Committee: There are some reports, for example, that some countries have been trying to construct something like an Ebola Virus, and that would be a very dangerous phenomenon, to say the least. Alvin Toeffler has written about this in terms of some scientists in their laboratories trying to devise certain types of pathogens that would be ethnic specific so that they could just eliminate certain ethnic groups and races; and others are designing some sort of engineering, some sort of insects that can destroy specific crops. Others are engaging even in an eco-type of terrorism whereby they can alter the climate, set off earthquakes, volcanoes remotely through the use of electromagnetic waves. So there are plenty of ingenious minds out there that are at work finding ways in which they can wreak terror upon other nations. Itâ€s real, and thatâ€s the reason why we have to intensify our efforts, and thatâ€s why this is so important.

Secretary of Defense William S. Cohen, April 28, 1997; Testimony before Congressional Committee:

And advanced forms of biological warfare that can target specific genotypes may transform biological warfare from the realm of terror to a politically useful tool.

So, let me get this straight... (1)

VGPowerlord (621254) | more than 3 years ago | (#35379268)

The US Department of Justice is going after the International Oraganisation for Standardization (ISO)'s Moving Picture Experts Group (MPEG) Licensing Agency (LA)?

Am I the only person who sees a problem here?

Re:So, let me get this straight... (5, Informative)

Plombo (1914028) | more than 3 years ago | (#35379350)

The MPEG-LA is not actually affiliated with MPEG or ISO.

Re:So, let me get this straight... (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 3 years ago | (#35379378)

The MPEG-LA is not actually affiliated with MPEG or ISO.

Well, that's what they say. It's easy to get a list of MPEG-LA members but not so easy for MPEG. How many MPEG-LA members aren't members of the MPEG committee?

Re:So, let me get this straight... (1)

mbone (558574) | more than 3 years ago | (#35379466)

I actually don't think that there is that much connection.

I certainly know of MPEG participants who do not approve of MPEG-LA, and there are certainly also patents that the MPEG has to deal with, whether they want to or not.

Re:So, let me get this straight... (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 3 years ago | (#35379846)

I certainly know of MPEG participants who do not approve of MPEG-LA,

That is unsurprising given that MPEG is larger than MPEG-LA (in terms of number of members) but absent a list of MPEG members it's difficult to make any kind of real comparison.

Re:So, let me get this straight... (4, Insightful)

airfoobar (1853132) | more than 3 years ago | (#35379386)

The MPEG LA is *NOT* affiliated with the MPEG committee. They are a separate *COMPANY* that puts together patent pools for MPEG standards -- basically they are a bunch of parasite lawyers living off software patents, at least in my opinion.

Trolls vs. practicing entities (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 3 years ago | (#35379588)

basically they are a bunch of parasite lawyers living off software patents

But that still doesn't necessarily make them "trolls" in the sense of nonpracticing entities. A lot of MPEG-LA members sell copies of encoders that they have developed. I'd bet a lot of MPEG-LA members are also in MPEG itself.

Re:Trolls vs. practicing entities (2)

airfoobar (1853132) | more than 3 years ago | (#35379724)

That said, trolls operate under a bunch of different business models and with a number of overlapping motivations, including the motivation of excluding or taxing small competitors who need to implement standards. Moreover, anyone who tries to create a patent pool that supposedly covers OGG, VP8 etc just as they are released as royalty-free totally deserves that description, if you ask me.

Re:Trolls vs. practicing entities (3, Insightful)

peragrin (659227) | more than 3 years ago | (#35380264)

No they are trolls, because every year they say how thankful we should be they decided not to charge us this year for the stuff they gave away for free last year.

Next year they will say the same thing. They have said it the last 2 years now that I know of. Oddly enough 2 years ago was when Google started dealing with VP8, and actually opening up those codecs.

Right now you have to pay to use H.264 every time you, encode, decode, stream, move, or look at the file. Only because MPEG-LA are such nice people they actually only charge you for encode, decode, and stream.

If you think your not paying, then you might want to take a closer look someone is paying it for you then raising the cost of doing business along the way.

Re:Trolls vs. practicing entities (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35380976)

Of course someone somewhere is paying for it. If you're not running an open source operating system with open source programs running on open source processors, you're fooling yourself. Somewhere, someone paid for your CPU licenses/patents, chipset licenses/patents, GPU licenses/patents, storage device licenses/patents, audio licenses/patents, the list goes on.

The only thing this whole H.264 vs WebM mess is doing is putting more strength into Flash, because 99.9999999% of video services won't be hosting twice as many video files. Apple users are known to have paid for their hardware, Linux users get everything for free so there's no money to be made there. So it's H.264 files for devices that can play them and H.264 through Flash otherwise. In both cases, it's H.264 anyway.

And that aside (2)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 3 years ago | (#35379780)

Something being international doesn't mean it is outside of the law of a given country. Heck for that matter most large companies are international, they have offices all over the world. That doesn't mean they get to say "You can't pass any laws on us or take us to court! We are International!" Do business in the US, you are subject to US law. Same deal with MS and EU anti-trust rulings.

However the parent is completely correct. MPEG is the group that designs compression formats and so on. MPEG-LA is a group that grabs licensing fees.

Basically the MPEG standards created were covered by a whole heapin' helpin' of patents from all kinds of different companies. So these companies got together and decided that they way to deal with this and make money on it was to pool them. You put your patents in a pool controlled by MPEG-LA, who then handles the licensing of the technology. You then get your cut of the money.

Has nothing at all to do with the development of anything.

Re:And that aside (1)

Kjella (173770) | more than 3 years ago | (#35381096)

Has nothing at all to do with the development of anything.

That is exceedingly kind, I'm fairly sure the patent holders in various ways try influencing the development to make their patents essential to the format. Formally the MPEG-LA has nothing to do with MPEG, but I'm sure many of the companies have both experts on the MPEG group and license income from MPEG-LA.

Re:So, let me get this straight... (1)

Compaqt (1758360) | more than 3 years ago | (#35380140)

LA == 'Licensing Agency'?

I always vaguely thought of Los Angeles (Hollyood) when I read that.

Re:So, let me get this straight... (2)

DarkOx (621550) | more than 3 years ago | (#35380994)

Probably not but you should be.

At least where hightech is concerned this so called standards organizations have devolved into little more of substance than East Texan Patent trolls, they just hide behind their names and history for the sake of keeping a better face on it.

All MPEG-LA is really about is deciding who gets to play and who has to pay based on if you are lucky enough to be 1, a Mega Multinational, 2 part of their chosen boys club, and 3 friendly to their business interests. These organizations are not about facilitation of standards and interoperation but instread about collusion. They decide whats in the market place and how its offered, At least until another elephant like Goolge gets upset enough about it. It has to be someone like Google to even if it is "the people vs" becuase no AT-Gen would pay attention if some small opensource project came calling.

Software Patent Absurdity (5, Insightful)

Mystiq (101361) | more than 3 years ago | (#35379322)

Now can someone in government put two and two together and see the absurd situation software patents has caused? VP8 is supposed to be patent-free but everyone on the H264 side is calling it patent-encumbered anyway. The mere existence of patent trolls should be reason enough to get rid of the idea. You should be able to patent implementations, not ideas.

The point of software patents was to protect innovation. This should be a clear example that it is not, as VP8's adoption is supposedly slow because of the risk of violating other patents whose owners won't come out of the woodwork until VP8 has enough market share to make a lawsuit nicely profitable. The whole thing is patently ridiculous.

The sheer amount of patent lawsuits and now that even Google and Apple are teaming up against a troll is very telling. Software patents are not serving their intended purpose and it is obvious because no one wants to adopt VP8 because of the unknown threat. This is the stifling of innovation and is not protecting the patents of the 10 companies that may own patents to VP8 because no one wants to use them so they just become dead weight. What good is an idea if it can't be used?

Software is a fickle thing. Your idea may have also been invented by someone and you just didn't patent it. This is the problem with software patents. The patents themselves can be very vague and cover a whole host of ideas. If the patent office has to pass more patents just to get rid of a backlog, perhaps it isn't the fault of the filers but the fault of the law.

Re:Software Patent Absurdity (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35379528)

In theory software patents are quite specific. But you;re right. The situation is ridiculous. A video specification will be about 100-200 pages. A chunk of that is examples, contents pages, explanatory notes. Another chunk will cover material that was in previous versions of the standard since at least some of the basic technology from MPEG1 and 2 is duplicated. This is all no longer covered by a patent.

So the remaining technology - all the innovations that make h264 more advanced than MPEG2 - account for over a thousand different "inventions".

Re:Software Patent Absurdity (5, Insightful)

minorDistraction (1594683) | more than 3 years ago | (#35379572)

VP8 is not patent-free. Google has the patents, but it won't be charging money for it. If H264 wasn't covered by a bunch of expensive patents, VP8 would not be needed. People could put effort in improving H264 instead.

Re:Software Patent Absurdity (3, Informative)

Mystiq (101361) | more than 3 years ago | (#35379648)

Er, my intention was there, even if the wording wasn't. :) Replace "patent" with "royalty" where appropriate if you like.

Re:Software Patent Absurdity (1)

westlake (615356) | more than 3 years ago | (#35381276)

If H264 wasn't covered by a bunch of expensive patents, VP8 would not be needed. People could put effort in improving H264 instead.

They are.

HEVC (aka H.265) should be ready in about a year or two.

Current indications are that the new standard could provide 2x better video compression performance (i.e. around half the bitrate for a similar quality level) at the expense of significantly higher computational complexity, compared with H.264/AVC.

High Efficiency Video Coding / HEVC / H.265 : Beyond H.264 [vcodex.com]

HEVC like H.264 is not a exclusively - or even primarily - a "web codec." The target markets include next generation HDTVs and services like Netflix and OnLive gaming.

Netflix doesn't need the PC.

It doesn't need the browser.

What it need is the content protection demanded by the major providers,

What it needs is placement of its "app" on very tablet and smartphone, Internet-enabled HDTV, set top box, video game console, DVD and Blu-Ray player.

Re:Software Patent Absurdity (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35379668)

>The sheer amount of patent lawsuits and now that even Google and Apple are teaming up against a troll is very telling

I think you mean Google and Microsoft->http://tech.slashdot.org/story/11/03/03/187209/Microsoft-Google-Sue-Troll-Who-Sued-397-Companies

Re:Software Patent Absurdity (1)

Mystiq (101361) | more than 3 years ago | (#35379740)

Close enough.

Re:Software Patent Absurdity (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35379948)

Mod parent up, it was Microsoft, not Apple.

Re:Software Patent Absurdity (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35380030)

VP8 is being adopted. Watch next year's hardware list. Like H.264, VP8 is going in the ICs on the board. Companies like MS and Apple aren't adopting it because they're part of MPEG LA, not because they're concerned about patents.

Re:Software Patent Absurdity (2)

burnin1965 (535071) | more than 3 years ago | (#35381324)

You should be able to patent implementations, not ideas.

Unfortunately it is not as simple as that. The reason we have software patents is because lawyers were able to twist a series of patent cases into a questionable conclusion that says something like 'when this software idea is combined with the hardware of a computer it transforms the hardware into a new machine and therefore the software itself is patentable as part of the implementation.'

There are a number of people who make a great deal of money ensuring this root conclusion stands and they extract huge sums of money from the market by utilizing this conclusion. If the tenuous link between a software idea / algorithm / design and the actual software implementation can be broken then the rest of the software patent mess will crumble.

A software idea or design, even as a component of a machine, should be ruled as ineligible for patent protection because, as you state, it is basically an abstract idea that solves a problem and by allowing patent protection of the idea the path to advancement of useful arts and science is blocked because the idea covers all possible implementations. The argument that this will remove the incentive for innovation and invention will quickly come out but this argument is moot because software is covered by copyright so the implementation of an idea is still protected.

The astounding absurdity in software patents is that the patent itself is not actually on the software. When you look at a software patent it doesn't show the software, it shows a very high level abstraction of the problem the software will solve or how it will solve the problem. Most machine patents include drawings of the actual machine implementation, a software patent never shows the actual software implementation because if they did that it would be redundant to copyright and would not prevent competition from alternate solutions to the same problem.

Your idea may have also been invented by someone and you just didn't patent it. This is the problem with software patents. The patents themselves can be very vague and cover a whole host of ideas. If the patent office has to pass more patents just to get rid of a backlog, perhaps it isn't the fault of the filers but the fault of the law.

While it may be valid to discuss the various issues surrounding software patents I would avoid focusing on them as the reason to eliminate software patents. The reason being that these people fighting to keep software patents will look at your arguments and see that you have a very strong point and a very weak point, they will immediately focus on the weak point and detract you and the argument away from a logical conclusion that would do away with the absurdity of software patents.

Re:Software Patent Absurdity (4, Insightful)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 3 years ago | (#35381796)

You should be able to patent implementations, not ideas.

We already have protection for implementations, it's called copyright.

Now can someone in government put two and two together and see the absurd situation software patents has caused? VP8 is supposed to be patent-free but everyone on the H264 side is calling it patent-encumbered anyway.

I am personally opposed to software patents, especially for things like 1-click purchase, but you need to be able to see both sides of the issue. Look at it a different way:

VP8 was developed over the course of 10 years by a company called On2 Technologies. They paid their programmers lots of money, and got lots of money from investors to do so, because they thought they could make a lot of money in return. And they did. In 2004, for example, Macromedia paid them lots of money to license their VP6 codec. Now, to be interoperable, you need to let other people know what the format is, so if it weren't for patents, Macromedia wouldn't have needed to pay them. They could have just rewritten the codec on their own and avoided licensing costs.

If patents weren't around, On2 wouldn't have been able to get licensing fees. Thus they wouldn't have been able to make money, and they wouldn't have gotten funding to pay their programmers. It is arguably only because of patents that VP8 even exists today.

See how it is? Patents aren't a clear evil. Life is nuanced and there are shades of grey.

Taxes well spent - Investigate everyone (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35379404)

While they're at it, they can investigate Google's VP8 for thieving of code from other codecs.

Be still my heart ! (0)

mbone (558574) | more than 3 years ago | (#35379532)

I thought that the DOJ anti-trust division had all been frozen in carbonite. Now, it appears that they are awake and may actually do some good. When they are done with this, there is a certain search engine they might want to look at...

Re:Be still my heart ! (1)

jd2112 (1535857) | more than 3 years ago | (#35379768)

A certian G. Lucas, citing his patent 'A method for placing objects and persons in stasis by means of encasing in Carbonite' demanded payment for patent infringement and the un-freezing of 'unnecessary' government workers was required as part of the settlement.

Re:Be still my heart ! (1)

sargeUSMC (905860) | more than 3 years ago | (#35379890)

I thought that the DOJ anti-trust division had all been frozen in carbonite. Now, it appears that they are awake and may actually do some good. When they are done with this, there is a certain search engine they might want to look at...

Don't worry - It'll get strung out till the new administration drops the case because it isn't business friendly.

Patents were designed to be monopolistic (1)

NicknamesAreStupid (1040118) | more than 3 years ago | (#35379602)

The point is to give their holders a preference. True, it was intended for individuals who needs a while to ramp an idea up to a business, not multinational corporate conglomerates who house thousands like a weapons stockpile. Perhaps, the answer is that we do not afford corporations the same rights as individuals. The Supreme Court recently ruled to that effect.

In Cohoots with the government (2)

Curunir_wolf (588405) | more than 3 years ago | (#35379638)

I told you Google was working with the government! This just proves it.

--- Glenn Beck

Re:In Cohoots with the government (1)

Mystiq (101361) | more than 3 years ago | (#35379830)

I sincerely hope you don't mean that. Glenn Beck is about as ridiculous as they come. He offers no discussion, only bait. He's like a 13 year old on a forum starting a flame war then watching everything burn while pouring more gasoline. There may be valid points in there but the amount of noise that comes with it makes it hard to find the signal.

Re:In Cohoots with the government (2)

Curunir_wolf (588405) | more than 3 years ago | (#35380068)

Meh. It was supposed to be funny. Looks like I failed miserably.

Re:In Cohoots with the government (1)

BJ_Covert_Action (1499847) | more than 3 years ago | (#35381408)

I laughed.

It just seems that as soon as the name Glenn Beck is mentioned on slashdot, some 'dotters shit their pants in an unholy crusade against him, without entertaining the notion that the whole thing may just be one finely done parody.

Steve Jobs on video codecs and patents (4, Insightful)

Elbereth (58257) | more than 3 years ago | (#35379764)

"All video codecs are covered by patents," Mr. Jobs wrote. "Unfortunately, just because something is open-source, it doesn't mean or guarantee that it doesn't infringe on others patents."

This seems like a reasonable statement, at first, but then I wondered what makes video codecs so special. I mean, why single them out, when almost anything has at least the possibility of infringing on a patent? I think that's pretty much the point of having a patent pool, these days. If someone claims that you're infringing on their patents, you can search through your collection of thousands of patents, in order to find something that they are infringing upon.

Now, I'm not necessarily an anarchist wanting to abolish intellectual property, but I do believe that patents have become an embarrassing travesty, thanks to the past fifteen or twenty years' worth of crappy patents (which are just now beginning to fall out of protection). When you can't even write an open video codec without industry insiders calling into question your very algorithms, there's something wrong, be it with the insiders (spreading FUD in order to kill the competition) or the laws (which have made competition impossible).

Anyways, I'm sure a hundred other people will say the same thing, since this is Slashdot, and we looove to complain about intellectual property laws, so I'll add a little something extra: what I've thought about as a replacement for our current system. How's this sound?

  • First, let's upgrade the patent clerks to "patent engineers", because that's what they should be, with appropriate qualifications and salary. I'm sure we can find the funds to lure some qualified engineers away from big business, and, if we can't, we could always steal a few away from the Armed Forces. Sounds like a pretty comfy retirement for a knowledgeable engineer, to me.
  • Second, let's remove all the legalese and obfuscation from the applications. If it's not clear and concise, reject it. If it doesn't narrow down the scope to laser precision, reject it. If it sounds like a lawyer wrote it, rather than an engineer, reject it. The default action should generally be to reject, seeing as patent are supposed to be novel.
  • I was always told you couldn't patent an idea. Well, it seems as though you can... if it's implemented on the internet! Come on. That's stupid. I'm willing to compromise on algorithms, formulas, and other mathematical discoveries (though I dispute their status as inventions), in order to fight against patents that are even more offensive than algorithms, but they should be, again, so narrowly focused that you'd know you were infringing on someone's patent, rather than stumbling on it by accident. One doesn't accidentally re-implement LZW, MP3, or JPEG compression. On the other hand, everyone has, at one point, thought, "If I had a single click checkout button, that would make this whole process much easier." Bezos was simply enough of an asshole to go to the bother of patenting his idea. LZW? Patentable. One click checkout? Not patentable. As distasteful as I might find patenting algorithms, it does force people to stop patenting stupidity like Amazon's patent portfolio, which is composed of "good ideas", not machines or algorithms. Since patented algorithms are probably here to stay, we might as well use them to purge the even more offensive patents.
  • Patents should have a clear owner. No owner means no patent. If you make a good faith effort to contact the owner of a patent, with the intention of licensing it, then I'd say you've done all you can. Keeping your patent documentation up-to-date is your burden, not anyone else's.
  • Patents should be encouraged to have a short lifetime. The amount of protection offered should be inversely related to how much freedom is reserved by the patent holder. For example, a patent on a new type of electronic lock might last 3 years, because it has an associated royalty, while the same patent might last 7 years, without a royalty. One might even have open source groups patenting their work, so that it could be protected against what they construe as misuse (such as being implemented in a commercial, closed source application). I personally would be rather liberal with these patents, extending them a ten year duration, say. After that, the algorithm would be free be the implemented by anyone, for any purpose. Or, if you're feeling particularly pro-entrepreneur, double the durations.
  • Frivolous lawsuits would be severely discouraged. And I mean severely.
  • The patent process now involves wrestling with a live bear. Anyone who successfully survives the experience is awarded the patent.

Re:Steve Jobs on video codecs and patents (1)

Jahava (946858) | more than 3 years ago | (#35380376)

Here's my patent reform plan:

  • At the time a patent is submitted, the total research cost invested in creating the patent (specifically) is also registered alongside this patent. This cost must be justifiable and subject to some set of reasonable constraints. Alternatively, the patent submitter can choose to omit a cost, and the cost will default to something like $50,000.
  • The patent, once granted, functions as usual.
  • At any time during the patent's lifetime, money can be paid towards it (by any party, group of parties, or even the government), and if the amount of money meets 110% of the research cost of the patent, the money is given to the submitter and the patent permanently enters the public domain.
  • Otherwise, the patent proceeds as usual...

The idea here is that there's still a reward for companies to do research (110% of costs reimbursed is guaranteed profit), but any patent critical or important enough to a company or society can be forced into the public domain at will. If, say, a cancer-curing drug is patented, the U.S. Government could pay the fee and the drug becomes available to everyone. If Google wants to buy some patents identified to conflict with VP8, same deal.

Anyway, wanted to toss this out there. Refine or reject as appropriate :)

Re:Steve Jobs on video codecs and patents (1)

Jiro (131519) | more than 3 years ago | (#35380972)

That doesn't work even if it's actually a reasonable patent. What if the research cost is $50000, but the research only has a 5% chance of producing something useful and the company had to do twenty such research projects in order to get one patent? Certainly not every anti-cancer research project is going to produce a cure for cancer, after all--a lot of them won't pan out.

Re:Steve Jobs on video codecs and patents (1)

del_diablo (1747634) | more than 3 years ago | (#35381304)

Then signing 50.000$ is lieing, because research is still research.

Re:Steve Jobs on video codecs and patents (1)

Rysc (136391) | more than 3 years ago | (#35381790)

I like your idea, but 110% is awfully low. Patents really do need to allow for a reasonable profit. Let's set it at 200%, so you double your investment. That is pretty fair.

Better yet, I'd like to include a clause that lets a third party assert that the patent has paid for itself. At such a time a court would examine the situation in a trial-like fashion and if it found that the patent had generated a gross profit of some reasonable multiple of its registered cost--say ten times as much--then the patent becomes public domain at that time without any further payments.

That way for really expensive patents lawyering it away would be pretty cheap.

Of course you'd also have to have a mechanism to prevent people from always writing "10 billion dollars!" as the research cost and using chicanery to make it seem reasonable. There'd have to be a legal framework to challenge the research cost justification.

Re:Steve Jobs on video codecs and patents (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35382500)

Actually I would propose some additional modifications:

1) When you apply for a patent, you must assign a value (this can be anything from $1 up)
2) At any time, any person or group can buy out the patent at 3x your value (modified by an agreed value for inflation since assignment). The new owners can 1) keep the patent active (assigning a new value, at least equal to the old value plus inflation), or 2) cancel the patent
3) For each year of the patent, the current owner pays 10% of the last declared value (again increased by inflation) as a property tax
4) The patent owner can cancel the patent at any time without cost (although no taxes are refunded)
5) The patent dies after 20 years, or if the tax is not paid on time (whichever happens first).

If you think your "one click" patent is worth $1 Million, you will need to assign a value of at least $333,333, and pay taxes of $33,333 each year (or allow someone else to grab it at $1M from you).

You left out profit motive (1)

swb (14022) | more than 3 years ago | (#35382186)

I'm not fan of the current patent system, but they're not just about protecting the money spent developing the patented concept but the profit that can be obtained from exclusive access to it.

The money invested in developing a patentable idea is just that, for the most part -- a business investment. People with money to invest are looking for some kind of return on their investment -- not just the money they invested, but MORE than they invested, an interest percentage.

I like your idea, but you would have to raise the cost of buying out the patent to some multiple of the invested amount.

I think another idea that would help a lot would be a "mandatory sunset without marketed implementation" requirement that would set a time limit (5 years? 2 years?) within which the patent would have to be brought to market as part of a product or the patent would become public domain.

This would bring a pretty quick end to most patent trolls, since they typically wielding patents that were never turned into products, and the system is supposed to be protecting industrial innovation, not creating licensing monopolies. Even big "patent portfolio" companies with active products would feel some heat -- ie, Company A patenting some concept they don't use only to hinder Company B's product development or simply hoarding patents to hinder competitors generally.

Re:Steve Jobs on video codecs and patents (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 3 years ago | (#35380456)

"Second, let's remove all the legalese and obfuscation from the applications. If it's not clear and concise, reject it. If it doesn't narrow down the scope to laser precision, reject it. If it sounds like a lawyer wrote it, rather than an engineer, reject it. The default action should generally be to reject, seeing as patent are supposed to be novel."
They are clear and concise to a lawyer.
What it all comes down to is that writing any legal document is a lot like making a wish in DnD.
To give you an example. Someone wanted a law to protect children. It seemed very reasonable. The law was that it was illegal for a parent to cause physical injury to their child through action and or neglect.

Seems good until people pointed out that you could go to jail for allowing your child to ride a bike. If they fall down and skin there knee you neglected to protect them. People came up with a long list of things that would be crimes if the law was passes as written.
Another example was a 7 year old that forgot he had a plastic gun that shot little pellets in his backpack. He never took it out and didn't threaten anyone but he got expelled for a year because he had a weapon at school!
Just like good software specs legal documents are detailed to make sure what you want to happen happens.

Re:Steve Jobs on video codecs and patents (1)

del_diablo (1747634) | more than 3 years ago | (#35381336)

Ain't that just nitpicking?

Re:Steve Jobs on video codecs and patents (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35380700)

Your post advocates a

( ) technical (x) legislative ( ) market-based ( ) vigilante

approach to fighting patent trolls. Your idea will not work. Here is why it won't work. (One or more of the following may apply to your particular idea, and it may have other flaws which used to vary from state to state before a bad federal law was passed.)

etc...

Re:Steve Jobs on video codecs and patents (1)

ChrisMounce (1096567) | more than 3 years ago | (#35380750)

Variable-lifetime patents already exist to a certain extent (utility patents vs. design patents [wikipedia.org] ). But it would be interesting to extend the idea further.

As long as we can make arbitrary changes to patent law, I think the most valuable thing you could do is to mandate a periodic investigation into whether or not the current policies encourage innovation. Are algorithm patents slowing down innovation? Shorten their duration by a few years/be stricter about what you accept.

  • Frivolous lawsuits would be severely discouraged. And I mean severely.
  • The patent process now involves wrestling with a live bear. Anyone who successfully survives the experience is awarded the patent.

I can only imagine the punishment you have in mind for a frivolous lawsuit.

Re:Steve Jobs on video codecs and patents (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35381146)

"This seems like a reasonable statement, at first, but then I wondered what makes video codecs so special. I mean, why single them out, when almost anything has at least the possibility of infringing on a patent?"

http://lists.xiph.org/pipermail/theora/2010-April/003769.html

Re:Steve Jobs on video codecs and patents (1)

dkleinsc (563838) | more than 3 years ago | (#35381930)

First, let's upgrade the patent clerks to "patent engineers", because that's what they should be, with appropriate qualifications and salary.

Next thing, you're going to be saying that some well-qualified patent examiner [wikipedia.org] might be capable of producing top-notch research in physics or something!

Re:Steve Jobs on video codecs and patents (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35382102)

By the way, the patent examiners I know are all engineers who studied and interned in the field. They're also very well paid. GS-13 for a job that should be GS-11

(yes, they didn't practice beyond their internship)

Mispelled (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35379854)

"the California Stare Attorney General's office is also looking into MPEG-LA for possible restraint of trade practices."
There, fixed it for ya!

Re:Mispelled (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35379992)

And yet you misspelled misspelled, jackass.

Re:Mispelled (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35380016)

Successful troll is successful

Finally! (1)

Compaqt (1758360) | more than 3 years ago | (#35380196)

It's about time the Justice Dept. gave value for money [google.com] .

Google's "Investment" in Obama pays off... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35381320)

Nice - now Google gets free DoJ investigations.

Do no evil huh?

Google saying something is anticompetitive..... (1)

ThisIsNotMyHandel (1013943) | more than 3 years ago | (#35381498)

Google saying something is anticompetitive is laughable. Types 'maps' into Google Search and what do you get? Google Maps. Ok, maybe they have the highest score using whatever Googles uses to rank pages. Now type in 'email' into Google Search. What do you get? gMail. Is gMail the top email provider? Not by a long shot. So if Google wants to talk about anti competitive practices, they have 90% of the search market and funnel people to their own services even if another service should be ranked higher.

Re:Google saying something is anticompetitive..... (1)

spire3661 (1038968) | more than 3 years ago | (#35381838)

Imagine that, using a company's own search function returns results favorable to that company. Im shocked, SHOCKED i tell you. They may have 90% of the market but its still not a monopoly because there is PLENTY of choice to go around. Bing and Yahoo are completely viable competitors, enough so that calling google an illegal monopoly on search is laughable. Google is in no way bound to rank sites in any certain way. They are completely free to rank sites in any way they wish.

Re:Google saying something is anticompetitive..... (1)

stewski (1455665) | more than 3 years ago | (#35381946)

The statements are fascinating and potentially point out a serious issue. What I'm not sure about is what this has to do with common property such as the royalty free VP8 codec.

Re:Google saying something is anticompetitive..... (1)

Mister Whirly (964219) | more than 3 years ago | (#35382146)

Yes becasue no other search engines exist and people are forced to use Google for any online searching.

Absolutely! (4, Funny)

kheldan (1460303) | more than 3 years ago | (#35381746)

Yes, we must break up the MPEG group's hegemony! There should be more than just MPEG-LA; I propose they break it up into smaller units, thusly:
  • MPEG-LV: Las Vegas
  • MPEG-NY: New York
  • MPEG-MI: Miami

..in addition to MPEG-LA (Los Angeles).

Sounds like a step in the right direction (2)

cyberidian (1917584) | more than 3 years ago | (#35381958)

I am glad the DOJ and CA Attorney General are launching this anti-trust investigation, and I hope MPEG LA is prevented from any further action against the VP8 codec. Without open competition, capitalism does not work. No group should have the right to block alternative technology formats whether they are free & open source or not. We must be vigilant about this as citizens because otherwise monopolies will destroy our democracy and the ability of new companies to compete and innovate. After reading this article, I am going to look into the VP8 codec and see about using it.

Important Standards need IP Certainty (2)

TheSync (5291) | more than 3 years ago | (#35382414)

[this is my personal viewpoint]

I'm all for people making money on their intellectual property (IP). And every modern standards development organization (SDO) requires the disclosure of IP by standards setting participants.

But it is the IP held by non-participants unknowingly infringed upon by standards that are the big cause of FUD on the adoption of new standards.

ANSI is the the official U.S. representative to ISO/IEC and accreditor of US SDOs . Not all US standards become ANSI "National Standards", but many important ones do.

I believe that upon ANSI elevating a standard from one of its accredited SDOs to a National Standard, there should be a legally defined process that begins a time period wherein all IP owners must "put up or shut up" regarding the standard, i.e. they must declare whether their IP is potentially infringed by a National Standard.

After that time window is over, patent or other IP infringement cases can not be brought for the use of that IP in applications of that National Standard.

I'd be happy for that window to be 1 year or 2 years to ensure that IP holders have enough time to be able to monitor publication of National Standards and properly analyze them, but no more than that.

I'm not a WIPO or international law expert, but it might be nice to extend this to at least a certain class of ISO/IEC standards as well (but perhaps only the important ones).

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