The Alcatel-Lucent against Microsoft case

With a court ruling of $1.5bn (see http://news.com.com/2100-1027_3-6161760.html), the Alcatel-Lucent vs Microsoft case is rather amazing.

It is particularly amazing since to everyone who has licensed from the MP3 licensing consortium was held under the impression that with that license they are off the hook for all patents related to MP3.

Well, now that MP3 is coming of age and any related patents will be running out fairly soon, Alcatel-Lucent has decided to take a share of the cake – and a rather large one.

What is worrying is that through this step, all companies that are licensing “standardized” codecs and thought that getting a license through the standards body would cover all possible infringement, now have to fear that there is always another hidden patent somewhere, which somebody can pull out of the hat at any time to sue them.

Doesn’t that put the aim of standardization on its head?

To me it just confirms that standardized technology should be technology that is not covered by patents and that the standards body has to make sure that such patents don’t exist.

Unfortunately, ISO/MPEG – and other standardisation bodies – have worked in the exact opposite direction until now: everyone who participated in MPEG made sure to get as many patents registered with MPEG as possible so as to get as large a share of the licensing payments as possible.

The only solution out of this mess is to create media codecs that are not infringing patents. Luckily, Xiphophorus is doing exactly that. So, this should encourage media companies to use Ogg Vorbis and Ogg Theora.

And if these codecs are too “old” for you, expect the new Dirac codec from the BBC to shake up things a lot! Open source, open standard, and the latest wavelet technology – should be un-beatable!

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