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Suddenly a JPEG Patent and Licensing Fee 1223

Michael Long writes "Forgent Networks ( has announced that it owns the software patent on JPEG compression technology, and has stated that it is "in contact" with computer, software, camera, and other digital imaging product manufacturers regarding licensing terms. This ambush of the digitial imaging industry will probably stand as the worst public relations nightmare a company can inflict upon itself."
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Suddenly a JPEG Patent and Licensing Fee

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  • by Kevinv ( 21462 ) <kevin AT vanhaaren DOT net> on Thursday July 18, 2002 @01:11PM (#3909558) Homepage
    No, that was UniSys: []

    Apple is strangling Firewire adoption (IEEE 1394) with patent royalty fees.

  • by Software ( 179033 ) on Thursday July 18, 2002 @01:11PM (#3909563) Homepage Journal
    Forgive the karma-whoring (though I'm capped): Patent availble here []

    Abstract: The present invention relates to methods and apparatus for processing signals to remove redundant information thereby making the signals more suitable for transfer through a limited-bandwidth medium. The present invention specifically relates to methods and apparatus useful in video compression systems. Typically, the system determines differences between the current input signals and the previous input signals using mean-square difference signals. These mean-square signals are processed and compared with one or more thresholds for determining one of several modes of operation. After processing in some mode, the processed signals are in the form of digital numbers and these digital numbers are coded, using ordered redundancy coding, and transmitted to a receiver.

  • by Scarpux ( 556596 ) on Thursday July 18, 2002 @01:13PM (#3909584) Homepage
    Actually I believe that it was Compuserve and yes it was GIF. That is the reason that the PNG format [] (pronounced 'ping') was developed. Besides PNG is technologically superior to GIF. Will it be time to create a patent free alternative to JPEG now?
  • by Prong ( 190135 ) on Thursday July 18, 2002 @01:14PM (#3909595)
    The applicable patent for GIF had to do with LZW compression, and was/is owned by Unisys.
  • by thedbp ( 443047 ) on Thursday July 18, 2002 @01:14PM (#3909609)
    No, they're offering Firewire at an extremely reasonable cost to support current and future development of the standard. This is different because JPEG is already set in stone, its not being developed further, so there really is no need to profit from the format itself because the format itself needs no additional development. Its bollocks.
  • by sparty ( 63226 ) on Thursday July 18, 2002 @01:16PM (#3909633) Homepage

    First, they mention owning the patent for all fields of use except satellite broadcast...does that mean that if I'm going to prepare a digital photo for satellite Internet trasmission, their patent doesn't cover it?

    Second, they mention declaring that they have / own / control the patent, but they don't mention who developed the technology. Does anybody know if they just bought the patent from someone? Did they actually come up with the technology? Or did they sign a contract with a patent holder who has given them exclusive licensing rights for certain fields of use?

    JPEG does appear to be patent-encumbered [], by patents such as this one [], but I can't find any references to Forgent or the patent number referenced in its press release.

  • by jsimon12 ( 207119 ) <tzzhc4@yahoo. c o m> on Thursday July 18, 2002 @01:16PM (#3909635) Homepage
    JPEG [] what are they sueing over? Their own propritary addition to JPEG? Cause the base is supposed to patent free, only?
  • by lingqi ( 577227 ) on Thursday July 18, 2002 @01:18PM (#3909650) Journal
    check it [] out...

    it's kinda long. will talk more when i go through the damn thing.

  • by jsimon12 ( 207119 ) <tzzhc4@yahoo. c o m> on Thursday July 18, 2002 @01:19PM (#3909669) Homepage
    They could say this covers EVERYTHING, JPEG, MPEG, PNG, AVI etc etc etc. What the hell is wrong with the US patent office? I hope some high court has the sense to see that this patent is much to broad and will only stifle development.
  • Re:Now PNG (Score:5, Informative)

    by kasperd ( 592156 ) on Thursday July 18, 2002 @01:21PM (#3909687) Homepage Journal
    Switching to PNG does at first sound like an obvious solution, but it isn't. PNG and JPG are made for different purposes. PNG is a lossless compression while JPG is a lossy compression.

    Sometimes you need a lossless compression, and for that purpose PNG usually gives you the smallest file among lossless compressions.

    But sometimes you want a lossy compression to be able to get smaller resulting files. I just picked a random JPG file off my harddisk and converted it to PNG. The file grow by a factor nine.

    PNG is a good alternative to GIF, bug PNG is not a good alternative to JPG.
  • by Maeryk ( 87865 ) on Thursday July 18, 2002 @01:21PM (#3909697) Journal
    I read through the patent listed in the story.

    It is owned by the company listed as a subsidiary of forgent in the news story, and the names of all the inventors are listed on the patent.

    The patent doesnt mention the word jpg or jpeg _that i noticed_ but instead goes deeply into the formulaic algorhythm covering how it is done. Wonder if they are gearing up to jump on anyone who uses a close algorhythm for compression? (wouldnt that suck for all the DiVX developers out there?)

  • by graffix_jones ( 444726 ) on Thursday July 18, 2002 @01:21PM (#3909700)
    Apple is strangling Firewire adoption (IEEE 1394) with patent royalty fees.

    This is the oldest myth in the book, and one of the most oft repeated I see.
    While Apple helped develop the FireWire spec, it doesn't collect all the licensing fees. The licensing fees go to the IEEE1394 consortium (of which Apple's a member) and it's the consortium that decides the division of the licensing monies on a patent-by-patent basis.
    Also, I wouldn't say that .25 per unit is 'strangling' the adoption rate.

  • Unlawful patent (Score:3, Informative)

    by MarvinMouse ( 323641 ) on Thursday July 18, 2002 @01:24PM (#3909721) Homepage Journal
    Previous work

    Excellent JPEG INFO FAQ.

    The JPEG standard was designed by the "Joint Photographic Experts Group"

    This patent is either totally off base, or someone is playing games with the patent system. There is no way that this patent will stand up as is.
  • This is a US parent (Score:3, Informative)

    by oliverthered ( 187439 ) <oliverthered@h[ ] ['otm' in gap]> on Thursday July 18, 2002 @01:24PM (#3909723) Journal
    Did the WIPO get there evil little way and make US patents that would not be granted in other countries applicable in those countries?

    In the UK/europe you cann't (yet) patent
    Gene sequences,
    Computer Software
    Business Models

    So why the hell should countries that don't allow that kind of patent bother to act on them.

    Move all your R+D &co out-side the US when you want to avoid US laws like DMCA and stupid patents

    Even better lobby the government whatever county you in not to accept those stupid patents.

    I have never read the JPEG patent but using applied first principles I could probably come up with several lossy/non-lossy compression algoithms that violate that patent. There no real added value in applying first principles.

  • Re:I'm outraged! (Score:2, Informative)

    by stuuf ( 587464 ) <> on Thursday July 18, 2002 @01:27PM (#3909754) Homepage Journal
    look at investor relations->News.
    also, the article was posted a week ago.
    something I noticed from reading it is that it's not patented in satellite broadcasts. Hey, lets all use satellite internet! Or maybe DirecTV, etc. actually uses jpg for transmitting video?
  • by erlkonig ( 15872 ) on Thursday July 18, 2002 @01:28PM (#3909778) Homepage Journal

    You can look at the online version of the patent [] on the US Patent Office's website []. Note that the patent process for this one was started 16 years ago in 1986 (stuff 4698672 into the Patent Number Search box on the search page [] to see this), which would certainly limit how much longer it could be pursued.

    To me, the patent seems to largely be focussed around runlength encoding in digital video - not that this always has any real bearing on how a specific patent can suddenly become profitable. That patent itself states:

    The present invention relates to methods and apparatus for processing signals to remove redundant information thereby making the signals more suitable for transfer through a limited-bandwidth medium. The present invention specifically relates to methods and apparatus useful in video compression systems.
    The patent describes a single-pass digital video compression system which implements a two-dimensional cosine transform with intraframe block-to-block comparisons of transform coefficients without need for preliminary statistical matching or preprocessing.

    It'll be interesting, and rather sad, to see if this actually get applied against JPEGs....

  • by ReadbackMonkey ( 92198 ) on Thursday July 18, 2002 @01:29PM (#3909792)
    That is not correct. You are thinking of trademark law. The best example is Kleenex. Kleenex made no attempt to protect their trademark and it has become so prolific in society that it has come to mean disposable tissue in the generic sense. Patent law has no such requirement.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 18, 2002 @01:29PM (#3909796)
    ". A method for processing digital signals, where the digital signals have first values, second values and other values, to reduce the amount of data utilized to represent the digital signals and to form statistically coded signals such that the more frequently occurring values of digital signals are represented by shorter code lengths and the less frequently occurring values of digital signals are represented by longer code lengths, comprising, "

    Sounds like huffman compression to me..

  • Re:Wha? (Score:5, Informative)

    by ajakk ( 29927 ) on Thursday July 18, 2002 @01:29PM (#3909797) Homepage
    Amazingly, you can't do it. It is called the equitable defense of laches. Laches says that if you have an unreasonable delay is bringing suit against someone, you can't get any damages for their infringement of your patent during your delay. Your patent doesn't expire, but it become very limited in who you can sue with it. You can read MUCH more about laches at this site [].

  • Rambus anyone? (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 18, 2002 @01:31PM (#3909815)
    Does this remind anyone of rambus. Hey everybody...I know you've been making SD and DDR ram for for a while, BUT we own the technology that its based on so you owe us Royalties and Back Royalties.

    "Once again something that could have been brought to my attention, YESTERDAY!!!"-Adam Sandler(The Wedding Singer)
  • Sony caved in (Score:2, Informative)

    by phasm42 ( 588479 ) on Thursday July 18, 2002 @01:31PM (#3909820)
    According to an article [] on The Register, Sony has already paid them $15 million for licensing; hopefully this won't set a bad precedent for everyone else giving in to them.
  • Re:Expiration (Score:5, Informative)

    by ReadbackMonkey ( 92198 ) on Thursday July 18, 2002 @01:32PM (#3909825)
    No, it was filed in 1986. Therefore it has 20 years from the date of filing or 17 years from the date of issue, whichever is longer. Therefore, the patent would last until 2006.

  • by hackstraw ( 262471 ) on Thursday July 18, 2002 @01:39PM (#3909897)
    From the jpeg homepage: .htm

    It mentions that the jpeg standard was a colaboration between a group of compainies and ppl. Nothing mentioned about a patent by this company. So are these people claiming to have invented the jpeg before these people standardized it?
  • Re:who cares? (Score:4, Informative)

    by andycat ( 139208 ) on Thursday July 18, 2002 @01:40PM (#3909904)
    We already fixed this problem when CompuServe freaked out about GIFs. We all use PNG now for everything.

    Here's the problem. PNG is a good solution when you want lossless compression, which is (not coincidentally) exactly what GIF did. This matters when you actually care about the numbers in the image, or when you've got certain kinds of content (sharp edges and smooth color gradients in particular). JPEG is appropriate when you have pictures that look more like the real world... lots of variation, certain frequency distributions, tons of detail. The reason it works so well is that it removes information that you-the-user can't see and then does lossless compression on the rest. That is something that PNG doesn't do.

    IANAL, but offhand I see two good bets for defeating this patent claim. The first is that it expires in two years: it was granted in 1987. The other is prior art: the original JPEG group was formed in 1985 by combining CCITT and ISO working groups trying to do roughly the same thing. (Source: The History of ISO 10918 []. I wasn't there; I'd appreciate corrections.) This patent seems to cover most of the components of JPEG and some of MPEG, and I just can't imagine that the JPEG committee hadn't come up with at least some of that by 1987.

    That said, I do hack video and image encoders but I'm not a lawyer. I hope to see this claim shot down in flames. Quickly. I'm bothered by the idea that someone could out of the blue come and claim patent rights over my dissertation before I even finish it.

  • by HeUnique ( 187 ) <hetz-home@cobolS ... com minus distro> on Thursday July 18, 2002 @01:41PM (#3909919) Homepage
    Look at the year the patent was granted. 1986.

    I hardly think that AVI, MPEG or PNG and some other popular formats were exists or known...

  • Re:JPEG 2000? (Score:2, Informative)

    by Knightmare ( 12112 ) on Thursday July 18, 2002 @01:42PM (#3909923) Homepage
    How can you possibly blame Microsoft for this?
    #1 Companies are required to come forward with any technology within OpenGL that might step on the toes of some rights they might have on that technology. This is required by the ARB, Microsoft was only doing the "right thing" as many other companies have done in the past

    #2 If you want to blame anybody for this Unisys would be the one to point the fingers at after the Gif fiasco they pulled.

    While you may dislike Microsoft a great deal, you might want to turn off your skewed view on the world on occasion...
  • by Jailbrekr ( 73837 ) <> on Thursday July 18, 2002 @01:45PM (#3909951) Homepage .htm

    A brief history of JPEG, which started in 1985. I think it can be fought on the premise that the patent was based on the work of the consortium, and not the work of the person who filed the patent. First to invent, not first to file.
  • Re:so? (Score:3, Informative)

    by stevew ( 4845 ) on Thursday July 18, 2002 @01:45PM (#3909966) Journal
    You are mixing Trademark law with Patent law. These are two VERY different animals. What you say is true about Trademarks.

    Patents may be defended at the owners choice. They don't expire due to lack of use. Trademarks
    do if they aren't defended.
  • by Melantha_Bacchae ( 232402 ) on Thursday July 18, 2002 @01:47PM (#3909978)
    An AC wrote:

    > Apple has a similar claim to ideas used within
    > PNG's not GIF's.

    They have a claim, yes, but they are not pressing it. Seems Apple, out of the goodness of their hearts, these days is a big believer in royalty free web standards (and open standards period). As long as they have a bit of their own proprietary stuff to be special, sell computers, and can crow about how innovative they are, they are quite happy to share some of their stuff.

    Furthermore, a big chunk of Apple's customers is the creative folk. This is precisely the group that would be the first (besides Slashdot) to scream bloody murder if Apple tried something like this with a graphics file format. Apple has done the occasional dumb thing, and once nearly killed themselves with their greed and stupidity, but hopefully they are not that stupid.

    "What I'm thinking is different from what you are."
    Belabera, "Mothra 3" 1998
  • Re:I'm outraged! (Score:1, Informative)

    by IP, Daily ( 250583 ) <> on Thursday July 18, 2002 @01:47PM (#3909979) Homepage
    Why should a company have to publicly announce the existence of their patents? Patent data is public information, available free of charge. Any company that develops and markets any technology without first doing due diligence to determine if they're infringing an issued patent is acting recklessly and deserves what they get.
  • by xphase ( 56482 ) on Thursday July 18, 2002 @01:49PM (#3909995)
    IBM has also pattented the exact same algorithm. See The GIF Controversy: A Software Developer's Perspective []
    The important part:
    The IBM patent application was filed three weeks before that of Unisys, but the US patent office apparently failed to recognize that they covered the same algorithm. (The IBM patent is more general, but its claim 7 is said to be exactly LZW.)


  • Re:JPEG 2000? (Score:4, Informative)

    by MisterBlister ( 539957 ) on Thursday July 18, 2002 @01:49PM (#3910004) Homepage
    Actually JPEG 2000 is a completely different beast. FWIW, JPEG 2000 is actually based on various technologies that are patented up the wazoo, especially wrt/wavelet technology. However, with JPEG 2000 the patent holders have agreed to make the patented technology available to all at no charge.
  • Re:JPEG 2000? (Score:3, Informative)

    by raynet ( 51803 ) on Thursday July 18, 2002 @01:53PM (#3910047) Homepage
    IRCC JPEG2000 uses wavelets but JPEG uses discrete cosine transform. And these are complitely different techniques to compress images. Wavelets compress the whole image and DCT only small blocks. But then again, I might be wrong :)
  • Re:Pfffft. (Score:2, Informative)

    by larry bagina ( 561269 ) on Thursday July 18, 2002 @01:54PM (#3910049) Journal
    1. Nope, that's trademarks. Patents expire statutorially (after 20 years) or if the patent holder gives them up.
    2. Png is non-lossy compression, and is unsuitable for photographs. JPeg compression is based on the fact that most people can't differentiate subtle color changes, or are willing to trade off file size for file quality, just like with mp3.
  • by Samari711 ( 521187 ) on Thursday July 18, 2002 @01:54PM (#3910055)
    IBM also pattents EVERYTHING. The head of the R and D department came and gave a guest lecutre at our school and explained that what they do is pattent anything that has to do with anything so that in a dispute (esp. with small companies) they almost always win by sheer volume of pattents.
  • Wrongo (Score:3, Informative)

    by Gumber ( 17306 ) on Thursday July 18, 2002 @01:54PM (#3910057) Homepage
    What will likely happen is that Microsoft will look around and come up with a patent that they own that Forent or Compression labs is violating and they will come up with a cross-license agreement.

    This is the big reason the patent system is screwed. The little guy, and that may well include Forent in this case, has no leverage against the big guys.
  • by OppressiveGiant ( 558743 ) on Thursday July 18, 2002 @01:57PM (#3910089) Homepage Journal

    Doesn't JPEG stand for Joint Photographic Experts Group [] ? Isn't this the group that came up with the JPEG format in the first place?

    According to JPEG what most of us believe to be JPEG files are actually JFIF which are royalty free thanks to C-Cube Microsystems. So Forgent Might not be due that much in royalties after all.

    This might be a good thing after all. The restrictions on GIFs spawned a much better file format (PNG). This could do the same for Lossy Images.

  • by ZahrGnosis ( 66741 ) on Thursday July 18, 2002 @02:00PM (#3910123) Homepage
    They haven't patented much... here is the patent []. The abstract reads as follows:
    The present invention relates to methods and apparatus for processing signals to remove redundant information thereby making the signals more suitable for transfer through a limited-bandwidth medium. The present invention specifically relates to methods and apparatus useful in video compression systems. Typically, the system determines differences between the current input signals and the previous input signals using mean-square difference signals. These mean-square signals are processed and compared with one or more thresholds for determining one of several modes of operation. After processing in some mode, the processed signals are in the form of digital numbers and these digital numbers are coded, using ordered redundancy coding, and transmitted to a receiver.
    If anything, they have claims to some MPEG technology, but everything in the patent references multiple frames and compressing transitions and whatnot. Doesn't look like JPEG stuff at all.
  • Re:Expiration (Score:3, Informative)

    by nuzoo ( 588862 ) on Thursday July 18, 2002 @02:02PM (#3910144)
    No. It expires in 2004, 17 years after the issue date. The 20 year rule only applies to patents filed after late 1995.
  • Re:No more jpegs? (Score:3, Informative)

    by Axe ( 11122 ) on Thursday July 18, 2002 @02:04PM (#3910167)
    From a the perspective of a semi-educated outsider it doesn't seem like much of a jump from Fourier analysis (just more complicated basis functions).

    It is actually started from the quadrature mirror filter approach (filtering with complimentary high/low pass FIR filters and comressing the residual) - just happened to be equivalent of a analysis with some crazy basis function.. > What if I were to write an LGPL's wavelet encoder?

    You may be in trouble. While the actual algorithms (essentially - denoising, by setting low coefficients to 0) are not patentable, their use for the purpose of compressing an image is patentable. And a lot of fine details of such "use" were in fact grabbed by various outfits (from color space selection, to selective detailing - when some area of an image, with higher "volatility" get more detailed treatment, and dozens of other detail)

    Look at JPEG2000 literature - some references. There is a reason it did not replace DCOS (even being faster - it is O(N), not O(NlogN) as Fourier - and has better selection of operations. - in MPEG4 - patents and royalties it is..

    Mother fucking parasites.

  • Re:I'm outraged! (Score:5, Informative)

    by termchimp ( 173199 ) on Thursday July 18, 2002 @02:05PM (#3910173)
    only thing i can think of is that occasionally patents take a while to go through

    Scientific American actually has a good article [] about so-called "submarine" patents. Turns out there are ways to file for a patent and then delay its issuance for years. The details of the patent remain secret until it is issued. When the patent "surfaces" years after it's been filed, anyone who unknowingly used that idea is at the mercy of the patenteer.

    An inventor named Lemelson was notorious for doing this sort of thing (see the article). He delayed one patent for 40 years after filing for it. Seems to me like a good (read "underhanded") way to make money off your ideas if you're (a) patient, and (b) too lazy to actually build and sell a product.

  • ALTERNATIVE TO JPEG (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 18, 2002 @02:05PM (#3910174)
  • Re:Now PNG (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 18, 2002 @02:07PM (#3910198)
    > I just picked a random JPG file off my harddisk
    > and converted it to PNG. The file grow by a
    > factor nine
    Try this:
  • by TheOldCrow ( 260653 ) on Thursday July 18, 2002 @02:07PM (#3910204) Homepage
    Yet again something that will be tossed out under the Doctrine of Laches:

    "Laches is recognized as an equitable defense available to defendants in patent infringement litigation under 35 U.S.C. Section 282 (1988). Laches enables the infringer to avoid liability if the patent holder delays too long before commencing litigation. The doctrine flows from the longstanding, fundamental legal principle that equity will not protect those who sleep on their rights."

    Reference: The Doctrine of Laches and Patent Infringement Litigation at URL:

    Original URL before tinyurling: .n sf/articles/5731FF9F4372B6ED85256B43006EA07D?OpenD ocument

    Crow /**/
  • Re:I'm outraged! (Score:1, Informative)

    by IP, Daily ( 250583 ) <> on Thursday July 18, 2002 @02:11PM (#3910243) Homepage
    That's the price of doing business. Search firms at the patent office can do a pretty thorough search for $500-$1000. Any tech company that doesn't have IP counsel to evaluate search result and keep them out of trouble is foolish. The cost of knowing what you're getting into ahead of time is minimal compared to the cost of getting yourself out of trouble later. As far as wilfully infringing is concerned, better to avoid infringing in the first place. You can't design around a blocking patent unless you have it in front of you.
  • Re:Pantent? (Score:3, Informative)

    by csimicah ( 592121 ) on Thursday July 18, 2002 @02:11PM (#3910246)
    Certainly not Liebeck... the linked summary makes it patently clear that she was sitting in the passenger side of a stopped vehicle.
  • by serutan ( 259622 ) <(moc.nozakeeg) (ta) (guodpoons)> on Thursday July 18, 2002 @02:11PM (#3910248) Homepage
    Read their page and you'll know:

    "Forgent and a national law firm, who has made and continues to make a significant investment to develop Forgent's IP licensing program, are the sole beneficiaries of the patent license revenue."

    Hmmm, notice that the law firm is not named. Maybe anonymity is in its contract with Forgent. Just in case you feel compelled to comment to Forgent, here's the contact info on their page:

    Forgent Media Relations:
    Hedy Baker, 512/437-2789
  • Re:Pantent? (Score:2, Informative)

    by iuyterw ( 255460 ) on Thursday July 18, 2002 @02:22PM (#3910356)
    IANAPL, but I think what you're referring to here applies to trademarks, not patents.
  • Re:I'm outraged! (Score:2, Informative)

    by dpme ( 594072 ) on Thursday July 18, 2002 @02:25PM (#3910384)
    According to The Register, Sony already paid, to the tune of $15 million- Forgent's most recent SEC filing states that Sony Corporation paid the company $15 million for licensing Patent 4,698,672: a significant portion of the $22 million Forgent booked as revenue in the quarter.
  • by sloth jr ( 88200 ) on Thursday July 18, 2002 @02:38PM (#3910517)
    PNG home page saith differently: [] (By the way, despite the implications in some of CompuServe's old press releases and in occasional trade-press articles, PNG's development was not instigated by either CompuServe or the World Wide Web Consortium, nor was it led by them. Individuals from both organizations contributed to the effort, but the PNG development group exists as a separate, Internet-based entity.)

  • Re:I'm outraged! (Score:2, Informative)

    by giberti ( 110903 ) on Thursday July 18, 2002 @02:44PM (#3910585) Homepage

    Start spamming the media relations department...

    Forgent Media Relations:
    Hedy Baker, 512/437-2789

    Of course this could just be to get some press coverage, cause bad press is better than no press.

  • Re:JPEG 2000? (Score:2, Informative)

    by VenTatsu ( 24306 ) <ventatsu@gma[ ]com ['il.' in gap]> on Thursday July 18, 2002 @02:46PM (#3910596) Homepage
    But it was not a part of OpenGL.
    It was a part of an extentions provided by Independant Vendors. The ARB was reviewing it for inclusion in the offical OpenGL spec, but it was not yet a part of the offical OpenGL.
    MS did the only proper thing they could, they came forward ahead of time to let the ARB (which they are a member of) know that they may have a pending patent on a technology they were considering using.
  • by Bonker ( 243350 ) on Thursday July 18, 2002 @02:49PM (#3910632)
    Unfortuneately, PNG is not a replacement for JPG.


    JPG is a lossy encoding mechanism. It disacrds a significant amount of information in any given image to create smaller file size.

    PNG is a lossless encoding mechanism. It uses several very intelligently designed formulas and structures to very efficiently encode an image to reduce its file-size without losing any image data.

    Because of this difference, PNG files of all but the simplest images will *always* be larger than corresponding JPG files.

    For simple graphics like logos, stylized text, and flat-shaded cartoons, PNG can be made to produce better looking images at lower filesize than JPG or even GIF. For this reason, PNG is idea for making simple graphics for websites such as blocks of color, logos, etc. For photographic or shaded images of any kind, JPG is simply better at producing better image quality at smaller filesizes.

    Now, if you're on any kind of broadband connection, that point becomes pretty moot since the difference between downloading a 10k jpeg and a 100k PNG is less than a second. On modem connections, moving to all PNG would make the internet completely void of all but the simplest graphics.

    IMHO, it's time to build a lossy format for storing graphics similar to Ogg Vorbis. Perhaps the video codec Ogg just released can be used to make reasonable single-framed movies? Anyone familiar with the format care to comment?
  • by nweaver ( 113078 ) on Thursday July 18, 2002 @02:50PM (#3910640) Homepage

    Claim 5: The method of claim 1 wherein said first values have the highest frequency of occurrence in said digital signals, wherein said second values have the next highest frequency of occurrence in said digital signals, and wherein said other values have the lowest frequency of occurrence in said digital signals.

    The argument is that this claim covers spectral partitioning techniques, which are the basic ideas behind the DCT as used in Jpg, and the decomosition in wavelet partitionings. The basic idea used is to separate out the high frequency and low frequency components, and you encode the relivant components first.

    Thus you can EASILY argue that this patent claim covers jpg (DCT) and wavelet based compression algorithms. It doesn't matter HOW the image is decomposed into spectral components, be it DCT or wavelet, for purposes of this patent.

    Also, its going to be a bit of a hunt for prior art, because it was filed in 1986.


  • JPEG, not .jpg (Score:3, Informative)

    by crow ( 16139 ) on Thursday July 18, 2002 @03:12PM (#3910884) Homepage Journal
    The JPEG consortium may have formed in 1985, but the .jpg file format didn't come along until 1991, and that was based on considerations of a bunch of compression schemes considered in 1987, after the patent was filed.
  • by booch ( 4157 ) <slashdot2010&craigbuchek,com> on Thursday July 18, 2002 @03:26PM (#3911019) Homepage
    The JPEG standard wasn't published until 1994. But the JPEG committee was formed in 1985, and it was made up of combined committees from the CCITT and ISO working groups. So it is very possible that they had already come up with this by the time the patent was filed. The technology used in JPEG was generally based on previously published algorithms. I think there's a good chance that there is prior art to invalidate the patent.
  • Re:I'm outraged! (Score:2, Informative)

    by nerdlyone ( 539405 ) on Thursday July 18, 2002 @03:38PM (#3911116)
    Actually, the best example is land. if you "squat" on someone's land for say, 15 years, it's legally yours. example: if your neighbor and you mow closer to your house than the actual property line, then one random decade you decide to claim that strip back, you're fscked. it's legally his, since you never said anything. this may be a more local application, but it's an example of how some property laws work.

    The legal doctrine is called adverse possession, and there are many requirements, it is almost impossible to successfully make the claim. One requirement (in most states) is that you must openly and notoriously occupy the land for the entire duration (usually 20 years or more). Just moqing a bit over the property line is not enough. And if someone is openly staking a claim to part of your yard for 20 years and you do nothing, I personally think you deserve to lose it.

  • More on Forgent (Score:5, Informative)

    by jon_c ( 100593 ) on Thursday July 18, 2002 @03:46PM (#3911176) Homepage
    Forgent networks are a local company here in Austin, TX. The local paper the Austin American statesmen had a story on them a week ago. The company has been suffering huge losses from there main business, when, one day they realized they had some useful patents from other acquired companies. One of which just secured them a deal with Sony, which they made about 15m on (minus 10m for lawyers)

    So the attitude there is to become a "IP" company and milk profits from patents that they hold, they now offer deep incentives for employees that think of patentable ideas, and are (of course) predicting large revenue gains from enforcing current patents. The downside to this is that many of there patents expire in about 4 years, so they better hurry up with the litigation if they want to make any money.

    I should note that Forgent is not a huge company, so there going to have a focused set of civil suites to companies that A: have deep pockets, B: are profiting off patents they own.

  • by Prior Restraint ( 179698 ) on Thursday July 18, 2002 @03:54PM (#3911237)

    I like the idea given that people should be required to make public claim to something within a set amount of time.

    They made a public claim when they were awarded the patent. You just got it off a public Web site for your own post. All patents are, by definition, public knowledge.

  • by LionMage ( 318500 ) on Thursday July 18, 2002 @04:18PM (#3911425) Homepage

    I'm not a lawyer, but I was one of the people in the working group that developed PNG. (I'm credited in the spec under the name Robert Poole, although I don't think they updated my contact info recently.) PNG uses the same compression scheme used in GNU gzip, and that scheme was chosen specifically because it had been well researched and found to not conflict with any current patents. It also gives fairly decent performance and compression ratios for highly entropic data.

    That's not to say that some other aspect of the PNG spec won't come under fire -- the file format is similar enough to TIFF and the Amiga's IFF/ILBM that if there are some core patents on tagged file formats, we could be in trouble. But that's doubtful, since prior art would probably play a role in any defense against such a patent assault. Bottom line -- if PNG comes under fire, the FSF lawyers would be all over the situation.

  • Re:Now PNG (Score:2, Informative)

    by UnrefinedLayman ( 185512 ) on Thursday July 18, 2002 @04:32PM (#3911511)
    Try taking an uncompressed image off your hard drive and converting it to JPG and PNG.

    THEN compare.
  • by mcguirez ( 524534 ) on Thursday July 18, 2002 @04:32PM (#3911517)
    I get the distinct feeling that there are a lot of bottom feeders looking for a payout before dissolving back into the slime... Essentially they take a narrow patent and interpret it in the broadest possible sence (Egged on no doubt by their lawyers).

    A company named EFI has tried a similar tactic. Now don't feel too smug because you're a small developer - they're targeting *ALL* developers large and small... This won't effect the large companies but will stifle the individual contributor!

    "I would like you all know this :
    EFI ( ) is sending legal citations (Texas Court) to more than
    200 small , medium or large companies which created any image editing
    software that is able to scan , manipulate and print pictures . They claim
    these companies ( even very small shareware companies) are infringing their
    (year 1984) patent about scanning , color manipulating trough RGB or CMYK
    systems and printing pictures . This sounds just like the other famous claim
    of "Unisys" about the gif patent .
    Among those companies have been cited Microsoft ( Picture it! and Photodraw
    software), Corel (photopaint), Ulead(photoimpact and photoexpress) and Jasc (Paint Shop Pro) .
    It seems that Adobe and Xerox registered and paid a fee in 1988 for using
    that patent in their software . So they are the only few companies who are
    not involved in this infringement .

    So if you are willing to make your own image editor I would think twice
    about it : it's sad but true ..."

    [Extracted from Google's newsgroup archive of borland.public.delphi.non-technical]
    Note that there's nothing obvious on their site: []
  • Re:I'm outraged! (Score:2, Informative)

    by Kisai ( 213879 ) on Thursday July 18, 2002 @04:34PM (#3911524)
    The similarity is the use of "DCT"/"iDCT" technology , Discrete Cosine Transform.

    The basic similarity between MPEG and JPEG is on MPEG I-frames where the DCT is used which is essentially the same use as JPEG, however...

    MPEG is not "A series of JPEG" files because of the other frame types, I-frames are complete data frames, the other two frames rely on data in the I frame. MJPEG is a series of Jpeg files, which is about equal to an MPEG of all I frames.

  • by Kisai ( 213879 ) on Thursday July 18, 2002 @04:46PM (#3911626)
    The Patent in question (OCT 6 1987): Sect1=PT O1&Sect2=HITOFF&d=PALL&p=1&u=/netahtml/srchnum.htm &r=1&f=G&l=50&s1='4,698,672'.WKU.&OS=PN/4,698,672& RS=PN/4,698,672



    Ser. No.: 479,766 Filed: 83/03/28 (now abandoned)

    "The patent describes a single-pass digital video compression system which implements a two-dimensional cosine transform with intraframe block-to-block comparisons of transform coefficients without need for preliminary statistical matching or preprocessing.

    There's the DCT part that both JPEG and MPEG use, and likewise a whack of other video compression technologies.

    "Each frame of the video image is divided into a predetermined matrix of spatial subframes or blocks. The system performs a spatial domain to transform domain transformation of the picture elements of each block to provide transform coefficients for each block. The system adaptively normalizes the transform coefficients so that the system generates data at a rate determined adaptively as a function of the fullness of a transmitter buffer. The transform coefficient data thus produced is encoded in accordance with amplitude Huffman codes and zero-coefficient runlength Huffman codes which are stored asynchronously in the transmitter buffer. The encoded data is output from the buffer at a synchronous rate for transmission through a limited-bandwidth medium. The system determines the buffer fullness and adaptively controls the rate at which data is generated so that the buffer is never completely emptied and never completely filled."

    Yes, this sounds exactly like JPEG.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 18, 2002 @04:52PM (#3911679)

    No, he doesn't. He's using the language in a very technical fashion, not a common fashion. An image can be processed as a raster stream. An image is also "video" as opposed, for instance, to "audio." This is especially true in scanning systems that are build to handle continuous images -- images of effectively infinite length. The processing has to be built to handle a "video stream."
  • by VoiceOfRaisin ( 554019 ) on Thursday July 18, 2002 @04:58PM (#3911748)
    altho i agree with most of what you said...

    "For photographic or shaded images of any kind, JPG is simply better at producing better image quality at smaller filesizes"

    better image quality? you just finished saying png is lossless, and jpg is lossy. how can it be better image quality? its WORSE image quality. but at a much better file size.

    that is all.
  • by Skuto ( 171945 ) on Thursday July 18, 2002 @04:59PM (#3911758) Homepage
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>&gt ;
    There is a lot of misunderstanding in the open source community as to how patents work. The claims made by Ogg Vorbis (i.e. it is patent free) are extremely unlikely to be true.
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>&gt ;

    There seems to be a lot of misundestanding in you how Ogg Vorbis is (was) developed. It was *specifically* designed with prior knowledge of the existing patents in mind, and 2 independant patent searches were done (one of which by AOL!) to verify that nothing was being infringed.

    It is completely free of any patent burden.

  • by ZaneMcAuley ( 266747 ) on Thursday July 18, 2002 @05:46PM (#3912142) Homepage Journal
    Taken from:

    "JPEG is short for the 'Joint Photographic Experts Group'. This was (and is) a group of experts nominated by national standards bodies and major companies to work to produce standards for continuous tone image coding. The 'joint' refers to its status as a committee working on both ISO and ITU-T standards. The 'official' title of the committee is ISO/IEC JTC1 SC29 Working Group 1, and is responsible for both JPEG and JBIG standards.

    The best known standard from JPEG is IS 10918-1 (ITU-T T.81), which is the first of a multi-part set of standards for still image compression. A basic version of the many features of this standard, in association with a file format placed into the public domain by C-Cube Microsystems (JFIF) is what most people think of as JPEG!
    Hopefully this site will improve your knowledge of the real work of the JPEG committee."
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 18, 2002 @05:47PM (#3912152)
    found it online, not a difficult search to do. For those of you too lazy, click this underlined hunk of text []
  • Re:Pantent? (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 18, 2002 @06:02PM (#3912268)
    I'll point out that there is no such thing as an "easement" in U.S. patent law. Easement relates only to "real property" (i.e. real estate) and not "personalty" (i.e. personal property). Patents are considered personalty under the law.

    Speaking only in the case of U.S. patent law, the following applies:

    There is no requirement for the patentee to assert the patent at any particular time during the patent life. However, there is also no provision in patent law for any damages accruing until the patentee notifies the alleged infringer. IOW, the patent holder cannot collect on infringements for any activities prior to when the patentee provides notification to the alleged infringer. Take a look at 35 U.S.C. 287 [], which codifies U.S. patent infringement damages. To my knowledge the "marking" provisions in 287 don't apply to this technology, so "actual notice" is required. In addition, with or without marking, there can be no damages for any activities more than 6 years prior to the actual filing of suit against the alleged infringer. See 35 U.S.C. 286 [] for this.

    There is also in a case such as this appears, the equitable doctrines of "laches" and "estoppel" that may be applicable. Without getting into the finer points, "laches" encompasses "undue delay" on the part of the patent holder that is to the "material detriment" of the the alleged infringer. "Estoppel" is a more general doctrine, where the plaintiff (usually the patent holder) is "estopped" from prevailing on the charge (roughly meaning: "The court stops you in your tracks and will not allow you to prevail on that allegation") due to the plaintiff's own actions in relation to the matter.

    In a very brief nutshell, those are at least some of the doctrines under patent law,* outside of the usual outright invalidity arguments under 35 U.S.C. 101 [] (patentable subject matter), 35 U.S.C. 102 [] (novelty), 35 U.S.C. 103 [] (non-obviousness), and 35 U.S.C. 112 [] (enablement/written description/disclosure of best mode), that are available as a defense for alleged infringer.

    * There may also be others, depending upon the patent prosecution history and any evidence uncovered in the discovery and trial phases of a law suit.

    Yeah, mod me down twice: once for posting AC, and once for IAAL.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 18, 2002 @06:05PM (#3912300)
    Hello, same anonymous coward here replying to self to tell all you knee-jerk reactionaries out there to put down the pitchforks. And whatever you do, don't invest in this company.

    First, the patent talks about 2 encoding schemes and applying them to various scenarios.

    A) Run-length encoding the amplitude of digitally sampled signal. An idea older than time, but not used in JPEG, so who cares.

    B) Huffman encoding the amplitude of a digitally sampled signal. David Huffman (at latest) came up with the encoding scheme in 1953 (basing off him being in grad school when making it and age at death []), so I think we can establish prior art.

    But the real issue is JPEG, which is the lossy end of the coding scheme. This involves (excuse my math) a Discrete Cosine Transformation to translate the amplitues into the coefficients of the frequencies being encoded.

    Huffman encoding doesn't come in until the lossless compression stage, which is technically not JPEG, but JFIF, the file system wrapped around the JPEG encoding scheme that makes JPEG encodning into a JPEG file we all know and love... a minor distinction, but again, any monkey can show prior art.
  • by TekPolitik ( 147802 ) on Thursday July 18, 2002 @07:16PM (#3912837) Journal

    At the time, one of the writings mentioned a thing called "Equitable Estoppel." My interpretation was that if you had a patent that was becoming an industry standard, you had to begin notification "promptly," and to allow it to become a standard and *then* begin notifying/litigating was legally naughty.

    Bearing in mind that equitable estoppel is a very new area of law (well, less than a century old anyway) that differs in the different common law jurisdictions, the basic principle behind it is that if:

    1. One party adopts an assumption (in this case that the algorithms were not patented);
    2. That party, in reliance on that assumption, acts or refrains from acting (such as by selecting JPEG over GIF or PNG), in such a way that they would suffer detriment if the assumption were denied (such as by having to pay unexpected royalties, or having to remove functionality that their customers have come to depend on);
    3. The other party with legal rights (such as a patent) has played some role in the adoption of the assumption, either by encouraging it, or acquiescing with knowledge of the other party's actions (such as by sitting on your hands knowing that people are choosing JPEG in the belief that it is patent free) - it isn't necessary for the other party to know of their rights (so not realising they had the patent or that it covered JPEG won't prevent the estopple from arising); and
    4. In all the circumstances it would be unconscionable for the other party to insist on their legal rights.

    then the party who has the legal rights can be prevented (estopped) from enforcing them.

    Now, this varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, and bearing in mind that in the United States there are 50 jurisdictions (or 51 if you count Louisiana, where I don't think this applies at all), some of the details will vary depending on where you are.

    But yes, equitable estoppel might be a valid defence to this patent claim, subject to proving that the aggressor knew people were adopting JPEG because of a belief that it was patent free


  • by russotto ( 537200 ) on Thursday July 18, 2002 @08:35PM (#3913381) Journal
    This patent boils down to a modification of run length encoding, and a very slight one at that.

    Consider a data stream like
    00000000001000000100000010000020000001000001 000040 000400001000000300001

    Ordinary null suppression gives you a code like
    R10 L1 R6 L1 R6 L1 R5 L2 R6 L1 R5 L1 R4 L4 R4 L1 R6 L3 R4 L1

    Their "invention" is to use a different sort of encoding when a run is followed by the next-most-frequent character:

    R10 R6 R6 R'5 L2 R6 R5 R'4 L4 R4 R'6 L3 R4

    Note the "L1s" have disappeared, but I've introduced another symbol "R'".

    This is a trivial modification, the sort of thing people interested in compression play with all the time (there's something analagous in currently-popular MTF schemes), and almost certainly something that was used before the filing of the patent. Of course, that can be hard to prove.

    (all the other stuff with DCTs and the like appears to be DCTs PLUS this one "innovation")
  • by Trepidity ( 597 ) <delirium-slashdot.hackish@org> on Thursday July 18, 2002 @09:31PM (#3913693)
    The people behind PNG and Ogg Vorbis are well aware that patent law and copyright law are two entirely separate beasts, which is why they did not content themselves with just implementing things on their own. They in fact did exhaustive patent searches to make sure that nothing they did was in conflict with existing patents. In both cases it is likely, though not 100% certain, that they have suceeded. The PNG standard was pored over with a fine-toothed comb by the FSF's lawyers, and so far it appears to be clean, which is about as good as you can reasonably expect. Ogg Vorbis has not only been checked out by a lawyer hired by Ogg, but in fact has been vetted by AOL Time Warner (a corporation that's no stranger to patent law itself) because the current version of Winamp includes support for Ogg, and AOL (which owns Winamp) wanted to be sure that they weren't getting themselves into trouble by doing that.
  • Re:Pantent? (Score:2, Informative)

    by Xenographic ( 557057 ) on Friday July 19, 2002 @12:53AM (#3914643) Journal
    Estoppel by laches, if I remember my legalese. No idea how relevant it is here, though.
  • by hgc ( 13913 ) <> on Friday July 19, 2002 @03:39AM (#3915140) Homepage
    I was a member of JPEG from 1992 to 1994.

    This patent was filed by Compression Labs. They were members of JPEG from its inception, but were gone by the time I was a member.

    My understanding about this, gathered from JPEG members that overlapped with Compression Labs, was that Compression Labs failed to mention that they had filed for a patent that might impact the work of the committee. This was in direct conflict with the rules established by ITU and ISO wrt IP disclosure. They waited until the patent was granted before they informed the committee about it.

    Many members at the time felt that Compression Labs had amended their application with information garnered from committee meetings. There was much bad feeling.

    Compression Labs announced that they would not attempt to enforce this patent against JPEG applications. They then stopped attending.

    This is very similar to RAMBUS's behavior in JEDEC.

    This is despicable.

"There is no distinctly American criminal class except Congress." -- Mark Twain