Thom Holwerda Says I’m Wrong About Ogg Theora and Patents

Worth reading; he makes an interesting case.

I remain unconvinced about an argument like this, though:

I’d like to add another argument to this that further negates these so-called patent threats against Theora. If Theora is so sensitive to patents, as MPEG-LA, Apple, and its supporters claim — than why on earth would one of the biggest technology companies in the world ship it as part of its browser and as part of its operating system?

I’m of course talking about Google. Google has implemented support for Theora in its Chrome web browser, as well as in its upcoming Chrome OS. Do you really think a large and visible company like Google, a very attractive target for patent trolls, would include it if it had even the slightest worries about infringement claims? Would one of the world’s most profitable tech companies willingly paint such a big bulls-eye on itself, especially now that this debate has been raging for so long?

Chrome’s support for Ogg Theora is perhaps an indication that Google’s lawyers believe it doesn’t violate any of MPEG-LA’s patents. I think even if MPEG-LA believes otherwise, they wouldn’t start litigating unless and until Ogg Theora actually became popular. As it stands now, H.264 is crushing Ogg Theora in the market. Why sue now?

Update: Further, Google is an MPEG-LA licensee. Even if Ogg Theora is found to be in violation of one or more patents in the H.264 pool, Google has already licensed the rights for those patents, no?

Thursday, 25 March 2010