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Forgent Settles JPEG Patent Cases

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the why-can't-i-think-of-scams-like-this dept.

167

eldavojohn writes "As many of you know, the JPEG image compression is actually proprietary. This has resulted in many lawsuits between its owner, Forgent Networks, and other companies that have used it. Yesterday Microsoft and about 60 other defendants settled with Forgent to the tune of $8 million. For a company with annual revenues of $15 million, that's nothing to sneeze at. You haven't heard the last of Forgent yet, as the article states, 'It is currently pursuing claims against cable companies over a patent that it says covers technology inside digital video recorders.' Sounds like that one could be worth a little bit of cash, wouldn't you think?"

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167 comments

Of course its expired now... (2, Informative)

icebike (68054) | more than 7 years ago | (#16697331)

JPEG patent expired last month, so unless you were sued before, you are safe now.
The patent was previously ruled to only cover video anyway.

Re:Of course its expired now... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16697375)

gif expired, not jpeg. jpeg sucks anyway, people should use tiff.

Re:Of course its expired now... (1)

hurting now (967633) | more than 7 years ago | (#16697511)

Tiff sucks. Jpeg works almost universally.

Too many TIFFs! (1)

Kadin2048 (468275) | more than 7 years ago | (#16699325)

The problem with TIFF is there are so many varieties of packing data inside of it, you can barely call it a single format. Heck, you can encapsulate JPEG data inside a TIFF file, and still call it a "TIFF file."

While it's easy to make a program that writes basic-flavor TIFFs as output, it's very difficult to write a program that opens the many extant varieties of TIFF files that you might find around -- and if you don't, then users are going to assume that your program is broken, when it won't open their file.

JPEG has achieved more popularity not only because of its smaller file sizes (which TIFF can replicate, through use of lossy compression, if you choose it) but because it's a homogeneous format. You don't run into nearly as many incompatibilities between flavors of JPEGs as you do with TIFFs.

Re:Of course its expired now... (3, Informative)

DittoBox (978894) | more than 7 years ago | (#16697871)

You're talking about image formats that have entirely different uses. TIFF is lossless, supports many different bit depths and different types of (lossless) compression. It's suitable for use in print, camera, screen and even HDR applications.

JPEG is designed almost entirely for preview quality work on 24-bit mediums. It does support 32-bit CMYK but TIFF is still preferred in that area. And it's lossy. JPEG algorithms create much smaller images for non line-art work, with reasonable quality.

So before you shoot your mouth off claiming "Foo sucks and Bar doesn't," try to realize that Foo is not Bar, and is not meant to be Bar 99% of the time. No matter how hard Foo tries.

Re:Of course its expired now... (1)

theshowmecanuck (703852) | more than 7 years ago | (#16698213)

And when you put foo and bar together you get a picture that's 'fucked up beyond all recognition'.

Re:Of course its expired now... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16698277)

Score 0? i guess parent had some mod points...

Re:Of course its expired now... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16698383)

Parent has a point mods!

Re:Of course its expired now... (1)

Score Whore (32328) | more than 7 years ago | (#16698887)

TIFF is a container format. It has zip to do with the actual encoding of the image. In particular you can encode JPEG inside of a TIFF file. Additionally the JPEG standard specified a lossless compression algorithm. (Even in the original spec.)

Re:Of course its expired now... (1)

swordfishBob (536640) | more than 7 years ago | (#16698959)

TIFF is a container format. It has zip to do with the actual encoding of the image.

And what does Zip have to do with TIFF or JPEG?

Re:Of course its expired now... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16698897)

"...Foo is not Bar, and is not meant to be Bar 99% of the time. No matter how hard Foo tries."

Urm, I think you mean, "no matter how much Bar lovers want to think that Foo wants to be like Bar".

Re:Of course its expired now... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16699183)

Foo is not Bar, but people don't always use Foo and Bar appropriately. Jpeg may have been designed for preview quality work, but one of the largest actual uses of jpeg is for digital photographs. Jpeg sucks for digital photos, as the quality degrades every time the file is modified. And if people only wanted "preview quality" pictures, why was 35mm film so widely used instead of 110 all those years.

I'll be more specific this time: Jpeg sucks because it is too widely misused for digital photos. People should use tiff for their digital photos, especially those that will undergo multiple edits, because the quality is better.

Re:Of course its expired now... (1)

Asrynachs (1000570) | more than 7 years ago | (#16699305)

Unless you're into photo editing or texturing then JPG's are just fine. Don't go acting all high and mighty just cause you know a few things about how image compression works.

Re:Of course its expired now... (1)

quag7 (462196) | more than 7 years ago | (#16697895)

I saw an article somewhere, some time ago, that the new IE 7 properly deals with transparency in PNGs (Don't run Windows so I haven't been able to test this). Though I'm pretty sure by now that format is cursed, in a mystical and supernatural way, and people will refuse to use no matter what holes it fills.

Re:Of course its expired now... (1)

quag7 (462196) | more than 7 years ago | (#16697989)

Quag7 you stupid bastard, there's also the file size issue. What a LOSER! What of the people without BROADBAND, on DIALUP!?

Re:Of course its expired now... (1)

MadEE (784327) | more than 7 years ago | (#16698259)

Methinks it's time for your medication. *backs away slowly*

Re:Of course its expired now... (1)

egypt_jimbob (889197) | more than 7 years ago | (#16698457)

What of the people without BROADBAND, on DIALUP!?
both of them?

You're buying, right? (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 7 years ago | (#16698793)

If there are only two people left on dial-up, as you allege, then you can probably afford to bring both of them up to the latest standards in Intertubing.

Re:Of course its expired now... (1)

cheater512 (783349) | more than 7 years ago | (#16699097)

Uh...PNGs are tiny. Slightly larger than Jpegs for photos but remember that they are lossless AND have more features like alpha-transparancy.
Its absolutely brilliant for cartoon and semi-realistic stuff.
JPEG is dead.

Re:Of course its expired now... (1)

bcat24 (914105) | more than 7 years ago | (#16698001)

But PNG is a GIF-killer, not a JPEG-killer. It use lossless compression, so it's good for diagrams, small images, etc. It's not so good for photographs, though.

Re:Of course its expired now... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16699089)

It's not lossless, it uses a reduced palette and other techniques to compress the image. But it's not good at compressing images like JPG's are; it's just not built for it. It is good for diagrams, line drawings, drawings with very little color depth, or small icons.

Re:Of course its expired now... (1)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 7 years ago | (#16699399)

PNG can be 8bpp (color palette or grayscale) like GIF or 24bpp like JPEG. It's not stuck at 8bpp max like GIF. And it actually has real (alpha) transparency.

PNG doesn't "compress the image", it compresses the data for the image (like GIF, not like JPEG).

Re:Of course its expired now... (1)

bcat24 (914105) | more than 7 years ago | (#16699403)

Maybe my first post wasn't clear, but PNG definitely supports lossless images. To quote Wikipedia [wikipedia.org] :

PNG uses a non-patented lossless data compression method known as deflation. This method is combined with prediction, where for each image line, a filter method is chosen that predicts the color of each pixel based on the colors of previous pixels and subtracts the predicted color of the pixel from the actual color. An image line filtered in this way is often more compressible than the raw image line would be, especially if it is similar to the line above (since deflate has no understanding that an image is a 2D entity, and instead just sees the image data as a stream of bytes).

PNGs can also uses palettes, just like GIFs, but they don't have to.

Re:Of course its expired now... (1)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 7 years ago | (#16699323)

"Though I'm pretty sure by now that format is cursed, in a mystical and supernatural way, and people will refuse to use no matter what holes it fills."

It's cursed with files generally being quite a bit larger than JPEGs.

Re:Of course its expired now... (1)

MadEE (784327) | more than 7 years ago | (#16698239)

JPEG patent expired last month. The LZW compression patent expired back in June 20th, 2003.

Re:Of course its expired now... (1)

retiarius (72746) | more than 7 years ago | (#16699341)

Technically, the Miller/Wegman (IBM) algorithm describes
"LZW" in patent #4,814,746, filed 11 August 1986, predating
Welch's supposedly independent re-invention.

Because the WTO "Uruguay round" grandfathered such patents
to file date + 20 years (vs. ye olde grant date + 17 years),
LZW claims really only expired less than three months ago.

We hope there was a party to celebrate this!

1-2-3-4 (2, Funny)

StCredZero (169093) | more than 7 years ago | (#16697605)

It's the American way.

1) Invent a good compression algorithm and patent it
2) Make sure everyone implements it and puts in into their products
3) Sue!
4) Profit

Now we know what to put in place of the ???

Re:1-2-3-4 (1)

wizzard2k (979669) | more than 7 years ago | (#16697721)

Ok, but how do you sue after you collect underpants?
We're almost there!

Not expired, but close enough (1)

sidney (95068) | more than 7 years ago | (#16698441)

PUBPAT has a different spin [pubpat.org] on this story, touting how Forgent has dropped all claims on the patent as a result of a successful challenge brought a year ago by PUBPAT resulting in the patent office rejecting the broadest claims last May. However, the details of the patent show that it was issued in 1987 [pubpat.org] , which would mean that it expires sometime in 2007. So Forgent just settled for a final $8 million to cap off the total $110 million in revenue [corporate-ir.net] they have grabbed during the 10 years since they bought the company that owned the patent.

Good for the 3rd world (1)

Simonetta (207550) | more than 7 years ago | (#16698593)

This kind of patent nonsense is primarily good only for developing countries. Places where people don't pay much attention and even less money to the rich corporations that claim to own technology.
  If the patent isn't enforced then the people who aren't paying millions of dollars to use technology that is in general usage are better off relatively to those companies in the wealthy countries that are exposed to patent lawsuits (on common everyday technology).
    This just encourages patent shell companies in the rich countries to file harassment lawsuits based on dubious patients against other companies in rich countries. It's an economic drag that the wealthy countries inflict upon themselves. Smart people in the developing world just ignore these lawsuits wherever they receive them. Or they just sell their products at lower costs to other developing countries.

Re:Of course its expired now... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16699429)

OMG Im gonna patant IM word compreshon lol u no?!?

JPEG? Proprietary? Why I oughta... (2, Funny)

jpellino (202698) | more than 7 years ago | (#16697353)

Proprietary software is for capitalist pigs!
It's just the man trying to keep us down!
Information wants to be free!
That's it. I'm dumping every jpeg and disabling it on my brows....

Huh. Where did everything go?

Re:JPEG? Proprietary? Why I oughta... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16697373)

You laugh but just wait until the very DNA in your cells is copyrighted and you have to pay royalties to have kids.

Joke's on them! (2, Funny)

jpellino (202698) | more than 7 years ago | (#16698165)

I live about 6 blocks from the nuke plant - patent away boys, and good luck with that matching search - bwahahahaha!

Re:Joke's on them! (1)

WilliamSChips (793741) | more than 7 years ago | (#16698295)

I don't think uranium is that radioactive. I live in a house with a SMOKE DETECTOR OMGWTFBBQ!

Re:JPEG? Proprietary? Why I oughta... (1)

maglor_83 (856254) | more than 7 years ago | (#16698249)

Well I would own the copyright. So I could sue my kids! Of course I should wait until my parents are out of the picture first. I don't want to give them any ideas.

Isn't it funny.. (2, Insightful)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 7 years ago | (#16697371)

The Gimp has no problem opening and saving JPEGs but every day I hear another excuse why Totem can't play WMV / Quicktime files. I guess the difference is that someone, who didn't give a shit about patents, actually bothered to make a JPEG library.. but no-one has sat down and done the same for WMV or Quicktime or the dozen other "proprietary codecs". Now ESR is talking about working with Linspire to make it easy for Linux users to download codecs, for a fee. They're talking about putting an icon on the desktop, the user double clicks on it, a windows pops up asking for their credit card details (or whatever payment system will fly in your locale) and the codecs are downloaded and installed with no user intervention necessary. This is a great step forward compared to the hoops you have to jump through to get (unlicensed) codecs installed on Linux at the moment, but isn't it a step backwards? Wouldn't it be better to take the JPEG/GIF approach: write our own library and just ignore these people who claim we must license their patent?

Re:Isn't it funny.. (1)

AuMatar (183847) | more than 7 years ago | (#16697459)

First off- Quicktime isn't a codec. Quicktime is basically a wrapper for any type of video encoding. So you'll never have a quicktime codec.

Secondly- the problem with decoding WMV and the like isn't noone willing to say fuck the patents. Its a lack of documentation, requiring it to be reverse engineered. Video is enough of a pain in the ass when you have the decoding algorithm, reverse engineering take serious effort by people who know their stuff. So expect it to take a while.

Re:Isn't it funny.. (2, Insightful)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 7 years ago | (#16697527)

Yes, true. It really does take effort to reverse engineer stuff, but that's the lot of those who care about interoperability. Ya gotta start somewhere. Samba wouldn't be here if people didn't at least try. Seems, these days, the only people doing reverse engineering for interoperability are the OpenBSD guys.

Re:Isn't it funny.. (1)

AuMatar (183847) | more than 7 years ago | (#16697579)

THis is a particularly hard thing to reverse. I can reverse engineer a data transfer and command format like Samba, given sufficient time. All you need to know is file systems and the kind of operations that make sense there. Reversing a video codec requires a lot of fairly high level math- a very sharp understanding of linear algebra and compression is only the begining. The problem is that there are very few people qualified to do so.

Re:Isn't it funny.. (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 7 years ago | (#16697835)

Not only that, but there's an element of pragmatism here: is a workaround available?

With Samba, there's no other easy way to interoperate with Windows since SMB/CIFS is the de facto data transfer standard used between Windows servers and clients. So without Samba, you simply can't use Linux servers in place of Windows file and print servers, and you can't connect to Windows file servers with Linux clients.

WMV, however, doesn't have this problem. You just download the codec DLL files from a Hungarian site, install them along with MPlayer, and you can now watch all the movies you want. There's no reason left to go through all the trouble of reverse-engineering those codecs unless you have an ideological or legal reason for not relying on those copyrighted codec DLLs. Most of us using Linux at home or wherever don't have Big Brother checking our computers for copyrighted codec files, so we just download them and use MPlayer. And even if you had a reverse-engineered codec, you'd probably still be violating some patents, so what's the point?

Re:Isn't it funny.. (1)

blackest_k (761565) | more than 7 years ago | (#16698291)

Can you explain something to me, my laptop came with a legal copy of xp home installed and the codecs i use. I choose to run ubuntu on this laptop assuming I am in the united states are the codecs illegal for me to use since I already got them licienced to me via Microsoft? What if I use them on another PC?

Re:Isn't it funny.. (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 7 years ago | (#16699205)

IANAL, but there's probably something in the EULA that states you can't use the codecs separately from the OS or something to that effect. It's great, isn't it? Only now with computers and software can someone sell you something, and then tell you afterwards how you're allowed to use it.

Regardless of whatever came on your computer before switching to Linux, I find the MPlayer win32 codec packs to be much more convenient as they contain all the Intel, MS, Real, and Sorenson (Quicktime) codecs you'll ever need, all in one convenient download. For those with RPM-based distros, they also have an RPM version to conform with your package management.

Re:Isn't it funny.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16698313)

All the world is not running on x86. I have an AMD64 system, and guess what? In 64-bit mode, it cannot use these without a 32-bit chroot. They don't work at all on my PowerPC system. So it's not as simple as grabbing a DLL for anyone using a non-x86 platform.

Re:Isn't it funny.. (1)

lokedhs (672255) | more than 7 years ago | (#16698717)

Then you must be doing something wrong. I'd suggest you try running the 32-bit version of MPlayer. The whole point of AMD64 is that it can run 32-bit and 64-bit applications side by side.

Re:Isn't it funny.. (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 7 years ago | (#16699241)

I'll echo the other respondant's answer that you must be doing something wrong on your AMD64 system. It should be able to run 32 and 64 bit binaries. Are you using a 32-bit compiled version of MPlayer? Do you have the 32-bit version of glibc et al installed to go with it? This could be a distro problem.

However, you bring up a very good point about your PowerPC system which I totally forgot about. You could probably run the codecs on ppc through an emulator of course, but the performance wouldn't be very good (although you wouldn't notice with the Real codecs!).

Some other poster in this discussion said something about "ffmpeg" having reverse-engineered versions of the WMV codecs; you might check that out.

Re:Isn't it funny.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16698867)

WMV is a) often encrypted and DRMed, it's been designed to thwart being decoded and b) a moving target, with new versions every year or so. OSS apps like vlc can and do work with older WMV files, just not the latest and not the DRMed ones. Breaking those will take time and effort, and OSS will always be a few years behind the curve.

Secondly, so long as you're running on x86 solutions exist to use Windows DLLs to decode them. If you're going to do some quasi-legal hacking to get your video to work you might as well go the easy route.

Re:Isn't it funny.. (1)

Harik (4023) | more than 7 years ago | (#16697759)

FFMpeg has reverse-engineered many of the proprietary codecs.

intel indeo1,2,3,
Sorenson Video V1 and V3 (Sorenson is what people think of as "Quicktime"),
WMV1/2/3 (windows medial player 7/8/9) to an extent.
RealVideo RV10/RV20 (Not 30/40 yet)

Plus a crapload of others that I don't know how closed they are.

Add that to mplayer's thunking of win32 DLL files to play propretary codecs, and I can
play video more reliably and with less work on linux/opensource then in XP Media Center.

Re:Isn't it funny.. (1)

Score Whore (32328) | more than 7 years ago | (#16698911)

Sorenson hasn't been "quicktime" for years. Now what you want is H.264.

Re:Isn't it funny.. (1)

coredog64 (1001648) | more than 7 years ago | (#16697855)

Secondly- the problem with decoding WMV and the like isn't noone willing to say fuck the patents. Its a lack of documentation, requiring it to be reverse engineered

*cough* Bullshit *cough*

The Windows Media team has always been ready, willing, and able to provide portable reference implementations to anyone with an open checkbook. No doubt Mr. Shuttleworth has the requisite amount in his couch cushions...

Re:Isn't it funny.. (1)

AuMatar (183847) | more than 7 years ago | (#16698151)

Under what license terms? Not ones that are amenable to open source. Most (if not all) companies that want cash for their documentation have ndas on that documentation that open source would violate.

Re:Isn't it funny.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16698449)

So what if the community collects a donation, buys the codecs and keep them free for everyone... it worked with blender

Donations of $100 thousand thousand thousand? (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 7 years ago | (#16698819)

So what if the community collects a donation, buys the codecs and keep them free for everyone

I'd bet money that Microsoft isn't willing to license Windows Media technologies under terms that allow sublicensing as free software for any price short of a hostile takeover, which based on current MSFT market cap would cost over 100 billion dollars (that's 11 zeroes).

Re:Isn't it funny.. (1)

Akaihiryuu (786040) | more than 7 years ago | (#16697507)

MPlayer (http://www.mplayerhq.hu/design7/news.html) will play both Quicktime and WMV files. It also has a Mozilla plugin that works very well. I haven't yet found any video on a website I haven't been able to play with it.

Re:Isn't it funny.. (1)

Saint Stephen (19450) | more than 7 years ago | (#16697559)

Yeah, but it uses the windows and quicktime dlls. The point still stands.

Plus I don't think I can play every quicktime trailer, though windows no prob.

Re:Isn't it funny.. (1)

zsazsa (141679) | more than 7 years ago | (#16698081)

It doesn't anymore. ffmpeg, which MPlayer uses, has native decoders for the Sorenson codec, commonly used in Quicktime, and the WMV3 codec used in .WMV files.

Re:Isn't it funny.. (1)

rHBa (976986) | more than 7 years ago | (#16697567)

I wasn't made to "jump through hoops" when I installed PHP (with the GD image manipulation library) or ImageMagick (which is far superior in my opinion).

Re:Isn't it funny.. (2, Interesting)

realmolo (574068) | more than 7 years ago | (#16697597)

The problem is, even if you were to reverse-engineer the Windows Media codecs, they have patents on the *algorithms themselves*. Which is the same issue with the JPEG patent. You can reverse-engineer it all you want, but if it actually WORKS, it's almost guaranteed to infringe on MS's patents.

It's similar to the old Nintendo tactic from the NES days. The NES system checked each cartridge to see if it had a bit of copyrighted text (Yes, plain text. Not code.)that Nintendo inserted into every cartridge they made. If that copyrighted text wasn't present, the cartridge didn't work. This prevented third-parties from manufacturing NES cartridges, because how could they put Nintendo's copyrighted text into their ROMs legally, without Nintendo's permmission, which they never gave to anyone? They couldn't.

Re:Isn't it funny.. (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 7 years ago | (#16697691)

Yes, that's what I said, you have to just not care about patents. They can try to sue you as much as they like, but if the code is out there they can't go after everyone. Sure, the people with deep pockets like Microsoft have to care about patents, but the authors of The Gimp sure don't. You just put a warning in the license agreement on startup "Note: users are required by law to obtain licenses for patents covering all technology contained in this program before use." The users then promptly ignore that warning and use the program anyway. The developers are no longer responsible, the users are too numerous and too low on funds to make adequate targets. This is how it has worked with the GIF patents and the MPEG patents for years. Get on with it.

Re:Isn't it funny.. (1)

DJCacophony (832334) | more than 7 years ago | (#16698129)

You just put a warning in the license agreement on startup "Note: users are required by law to obtain licenses for patents covering all technology contained in this program before use." The users then promptly ignore that warning and use the program anyway.

The problem is that you're distributing the files without a distribution license.

Re:Isn't it funny.. (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 7 years ago | (#16698185)

Sigh. No I'm not. Read what I fuckin' wrote. I'm not talking about distributing codecs - that's a copyright issue and you can never win on copyright issues. I'm talking about writing free implementations of those codecs. If you wrote the code, you're free to distribute it. The person who uses that code has the responsibility to go license the necessary patents, though.

Re:Isn't it funny.. (1)

BiggerIsBetter (682164) | more than 7 years ago | (#16698859)

I was writing about how I disagree, then I thought about it.... as long as you don't distribute binaries, you're not implementing the patented technology, just documenting it. So, just don't give distribute binaries and you're golden.

Re:Isn't it funny.. (1)

crabpeople (720852) | more than 7 years ago | (#16697857)

How do they get away with releasing them for free on windows [free-codecs.com] then?

Re:Isn't it funny.. (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 7 years ago | (#16697995)

Exactly as I said, by not caring.

Re:Isn't it funny.. (1)

curunir (98273) | more than 7 years ago | (#16698215)

The thing to remember when talking about JPEG files is that you're really not talking about JPEG. You're talking about JFIF (the file format) and not JPEG (the compression algorithm). JFIF, similar to what mp3 does for audio, only specifies how images are decoded, not how they are encoded. That means the encoding algorithm can differ between implementations with some performing better than others. From everything I've heard, the baseline JPEG compression (read: worst possible performance) has been patent-free since the beginning. The algorithm in question is probably one that produces smaller files while maintaining the same image quality. The Gimp is probably either using the baseline algorithm or one that incorporates their own improvements.

WMV and Quicktime are a whole different beast. In those cases, the entire file format is proprietary.

P.S. The above is from what I was able to gather in about a day of research into what it would take to write my own jpeg library. If anyone notices anything in this that isn't correct, please point it out.

Forgent patent allegedly covered baseline JPEG (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 7 years ago | (#16698849)

From everything I've heard, the baseline JPEG compression (read: worst possible performance) has been patent-free since the beginning.

The Forgent patent allegedly covered part of baseline JPEG itself, including the fused Huffman encoding of nonzero coefficients with RLE coding of runs of zeroes in the zigzag.

Re:Isn't it funny.. (1)

illegalcortex (1007791) | more than 7 years ago | (#16698279)

In addition to what everyone else has said about making your own WMV codec, there's one other big PITA. Once you spent all those manhours and finally get a working (though possibly just as illegal as a downloaded) version, MS has probably already added two or three new revs that your codec doesn't cover.

Re:Isn't it funny.. (1)

Waffle Iron (339739) | more than 7 years ago | (#16698395)

The Gimp has no problem opening and saving JPEGs but every day I hear another excuse why Totem can't play WMV / Quicktime files.

That's because the JPEG patent was a submarine patent that nobody even knew about until just a couple of years ago, when it was almost expired. Moreover, many if not most analysts doubt that the patent was valid in the first place. This is definitely not the case for most video codecs, which have been widely known to be covered by probably valid patents since day 1.

Why no use (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16697487)

gifs anf flash

They're more popular then boring old JPEG

more, more, more, make 'em bleed real good (1)

Britz (170620) | more than 7 years ago | (#16697501)

Otherwise they will never take that system down and small developers will never have a chance (and oss will have a hard time). Patents must be abused against large companies. The bigger, the better. It shouldn't read 8 million but rather 800 million. That will be the day I will be smiling.

They made it and they better eat up.

Re:more, more, more, make 'em bleed real good (1)

AmberBlackCat (829689) | more than 7 years ago | (#16699295)

I bet they could have made $800 million if everybody who profited from jpeg in their product actually licensed it.

Dan Ravicher and PubPat (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16697547)

Ravicher has been doing an excellent job of fighting for patent reform. There's a Windows Media video (ironic) of him speaking at a Santa Clara Law School function here [techlawforum.net] . He outlines the reasons for patent reform and how he thinks it should be undertaken.

Error in summary. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16697555)

You haven't heard the last of Forgent yet, since they now have 58 million dollars.
Fixed.

hey, a patent I don't really have a problem with! (2, Insightful)

bunions (970377) | more than 7 years ago | (#16697591)

There's not many of 'em.

jpeg compression is nontrivial. The guy(s) that came up with it should be able to make a living off their hard work.

Re:hey, a patent I don't really have a problem wit (1)

Beardo the Bearded (321478) | more than 7 years ago | (#16697733)

Yeah, I've heard that there are jpg images on the Internet.

Imagine - just for a moment - that they got even a hundredth of a cent for each jpeg. They should be sitting around a pool drinking something cold and alcoholic like the mp3 guys.

Re:hey, a patent I don't really have a problem wit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16697787)

According to TFA, they acquired this patent, they didn't do the hard work themselves to create the technology. Now perhaps they're still entitled, I won't argue that point.

I'm also a bit confused by the post here that said they earn 15 million a year. According to TFA, they get 100s of millions from royalties from digital cameras. That sounds like a lot more than 15 million a year. Obviously, their lawyers messed up on this one. They settled cheap if they were really getting 1% royalties on all those cameras.

Re:hey, a patent I don't really have a problem wit (1)

hweimer (709734) | more than 7 years ago | (#16697927)

jpeg compression is nontrivial. The guy(s) that came up with it should be able to make a living off their hard work.

Except that Forgent did not participate in the JPEG standardization process and those who did wanted the format to be free from patent licenses [wikipedia.org] . Oh, and the USPTO declared most of Forgent's claims invalid earlier this year.

Re:hey, a patent I don't really have a problem wit (1)

bunions (970377) | more than 7 years ago | (#16697959)

oh.

well, screw Forgent then.

Re:hey, a patent I don't really have a problem wit (2, Insightful)

radarsat1 (786772) | more than 7 years ago | (#16698003)


jpeg compression is nontrivial. The guy(s) that came up with it should be able to make a living off their hard work.


While I do agree with you, it's kind of funny how the only reason it's really worth anything is because it's used so much. And the only reason it's used so much is because people used it without paying the license fee.

Same can be said for gif and mp3... I recognize that that's no excuse, but it's kind of funny anyways. Had the patent been enforced from day zero, it wouldn't have nearly as much worth.

something stinks (1)

burnin1965 (535071) | more than 7 years ago | (#16697731)

Being the owners of such an important patent and winning a nice settlement I assumed that Forgent must be a premier technology company providing important advances in technology and related products to our technology driven society, so I had a look at their website [forgent.com] and what did I find?

"Our software division, NetSimplicity makes easy-to-use, scheduling software for any need -- scheduling rooms, resources and I.T. assets."

WTF, they make scheduling software for meeting rooms?!? I think I smell patent troll.

Re:something stinks (1)

winomonkey (983062) | more than 7 years ago | (#16698559)

You didn't do a very good job looking at their site if all that you came away with was their scheduling software. Right from their homepage you are given two links - Software or Intellectual Property. From their IP link [forgent.com] , you might find out that "In addition to the approximate 40 patents the company has secured or acquired over the past 15 years, Forgent has applied for dozens of patents relating to various products and software the company has developed over the past several years."

So, if you actually read what they do with software, you will find that their software does both scheduling and asset tracking. What, a company that has developed useful products that fit a definite market and have a definite place in the business world, yet has made contributions to the advancement of technology as well? How does that make them guilty of patent trolling?

Such claimes must be backed up by evidence.
Is this libel?!
SUE SUE SUE SUE SUE!

Re:something stinks (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 7 years ago | (#16698877)

In addition to the approximate 40 patents the company has secured or acquired over the past 15 years, Forgent has applied for dozens of patents relating to various products and software the company has developed over the past several years.
What, a company that has developed useful products that fit a definite market and have a definite place in the business world, yet has made contributions to the advancement of technology as well? How does that make them guilty of patent trolling?

Just as Sony has a legitimate electronics division and a music/rootkit division, Forgent has both a legitimate scheduling software division and a patent acquisition/trolling division. The latter is allegedly guilty.

trolL (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16697753)

A%nother charnel [goat.cx]

...pursuing claims against cable companies... (1)

Raistlin77 (754120) | more than 7 years ago | (#16697795)

Why would they pursue cable companies? I dunno about other cable providers, but I know that with Comcast in my area, the DVR is manufactured by Motorola (6412). Wouldn't it make more sense to go after Motorola?

Re:...pursuing claims against cable companies... (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 7 years ago | (#16698253)

Users and resellers of infringing products also infringe.

This can mean only one thing: (1)

noidentity (188756) | more than 7 years ago | (#16697929)

Burn all JPEGs! It's a big file format anyway; you should use JPEG compression anywa..er.. hmmm. We have a problem, Houston.

And I was silly enough to think that this kind of bullshit was past us with the end of the GIF issue.

Re:This can mean only one thing: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16699145)

Please no. I burnt all my GIFs ages ago and now I should burn my JPEGs?

Internet porn doesn't come in PNG, you know. What am I to do now, mister smarty pants?

i wish i could post a goatce jpeg on /. right now (1)

chroot_james (833654) | more than 7 years ago | (#16697933)

it's true.

proprietary? (1)

Eric Smith (4379) | more than 7 years ago | (#16697935)

Eldavajohn wrote:
As many of you know, the JPEG image compression is actually proprietary
Actually, it was only claimed to be proprietary. The patent office rejected most of the patent claims, and AFAIK Forgent did not successfully win any court cases that upheld the validity of the remaining claim(s). Settling out of court doesn't establish any legal presumption of validity.

Not proprietary and not owned by Forgent (4, Informative)

kuwan (443684) | more than 7 years ago | (#16697949)

The baseline JPEG format is not proprietary and is not owned by Forgent.

What happened here is that Forgent sat on a patent while the JPEG format was drafted with the purpose of being open and patent-free. Compression Labs (which Forgent now owns) was a part of the JPEG committee and thus was required to disclose any patents that might deal with the format that the committee was developing. Compression Labs was silent on the matter and Forgent only decided to litigate their patent after many years of silence and after JPEG had become a standard. The patent is likely invalidated by priori art and Forgent is probably also barred by laches due to their delay in enforcing the patent.

I'd rather that no one settle with them, but the reality is that settling is probably cheaper than litigating.

E to J, J to E, via Babelfish... (1)

davidsyes (765062) | more than 7 years ago | (#16698091)

"The rank of your abnormal play you know eldavojohn, you write, the image compression of JPEG is monopoly really. This the owner, originated with Forgent network, and many lawsuits between the other company which uses that. Yesterday Microsoft and other defendant of approximately 60 Forgent solved in condition of the $8,000,000. With that for the company which has the annual earnings of the $15,000,000 doing sneeze is nothing. Cover technology in digital video recorder. ' Vis-a-vis the cable company on the patent which is said, as a state of the article, the end of Forgent ' as for perhaps the sound which does not hear the request which that presently has been pursued yet a little value of the cash has, you like, you don't think? "

Hmmm... weird I say, do you think?

slash image word it is seen, you say is "reciter"

Wrong... (4, Informative)

chill (34294) | more than 7 years ago | (#16698379)

$8 million is plenty to sneeze at, considering it is a small fraction of what they were asking and had a 43% contingency deal with their lawyers.

You forgot the best part, which tells why we won't be hearing from them again anytime soon:

JPEG PATENT CLAIM SURRENDERED:
Forgent Networks Ends Assertion of Patent Challenged by PUBPAT

NEW YORK -- November 2, 2006 -- The Public Patent Foundation ("PUBPAT") announced today that Forgent Networks (Nasdaq: FORG) has stopped asserting its patent against the Joint Photographic Experts Group (JPEG) international standard for the electronic sharing of photo-quality images. PUBPAT successfully initiated a challenge to the patent last year and this week Forgent dropped all of its pending cases asserting the patent and stated that it would not file any other infringement claims based on the patent.

Forgent Networks acquired the '672 Patent through the purchase of Compression Labs, Inc. in 1997 and began aggressively asserting it against the JPEG standard through lawsuits and the media in 2004. PUBPAT filed its challenge to the patent in November 2005 and the Patent Office rejected the patent's broadest claims in May of this year.

"By completely ending its assertion of the '672 patent, Forgent has now finally admitted that the patent has no valid claim over the JPEG standard," said Dan Ravicher, PUBPAT's Executive Director. "This utter capitulation by Forgent is long overdue, but a cause for public relief nonetheless."

More information about the Forgent Networks patent formerly asserted against the JPEG standard, including a copy of the Patent Office's Office Action rejecting its broadest claims, can be found at http://www.pubpat.org/forgentjpeg.htm [pubpat.org] .

Re:Wrong... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16699093)

$8 million is plenty to sneeze at, considering it is a small fraction of what they were asking and had a 43% contingency deal with their lawyers.

It doesn't matter how much they asked for. Getting 57% of $8 million that you didn't actually earn is a pretty good return on your non-investment.

"By completely ending its assertion of the '672 patent, Forgent has now finally admitted that the patent has no valid claim over the JPEG standard," said Dan Ravicher, PUBPAT's Executive Director. "This utter capitulation by Forgent is long overdue, but a cause for public relief nonetheless."

So are they giving the settlement money back?

Now there are contradicting accounts (1)

Omega Blue (220968) | more than 7 years ago | (#16698643)

Groklaw http://www.groklaw.net/ [groklaw.net] reports that Forgent has dropped the patent case. So what gives?

Re:Now there are contradicting accounts (1)

swordfishBob (536640) | more than 7 years ago | (#16699013)

Perhaps the other companies involved said "heres a bit of money you can have if you just shove off and let go". Wouldn't have expected it since Microsoft has the resources to fight it out, and wouldn't want to encourage other patent trolling.

Huh? (1)

UnknowingFool (672806) | more than 7 years ago | (#16699023)

Groklaw doesn't mention any of this when it reported that the JPEG patent had been surrendered by Forgent [groklaw.net] . Earlier this year, USPTO reversed their position and rejected the broadest of Forgent claims after the non-profit PubPat informed the USPTO of prior art that Forgent did not disclose in their application. PubPat also pointed out that Forgent knew about the prior art since one of the inventors of the prior art was one of the inventor on three of its patents.

Is there an alternative? (1)

jonwil (467024) | more than 7 years ago | (#16699257)

Is there a patent-free alternative to JPEG like OGG is to MP3 or PNG is to GIF?

Re:Is there an alternative? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16699289)

PNG also works for fine photographic images.

A Plea to President Bush (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16699311)

Recall the troops from Iraq, then send them into the Forgent Offices, then kill with extreme prejudice everything that moves. And everything that squats cowering under a desk too.

Sure the Slashdot crowd are usually pro-civil rights, but we're sick to death of these patent parasites. Do it now! Do it for Humanity!

Then go to the US PTO and march all their employees into a big meat grinder. We can the incinerate it and use it as cattle feed.

Extreme? But don't lie. You like this idea too! ;-)

ShIt? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16699411)

least I won't brain. It is the my7self. This isn't Community. The
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