netcrawler writes "Steve Jobs' open letter on Flash has prompted someone at the Free Software Foundation Europe to ask him about his support of proprietary format H.264 over Theora. Jobs' pithy answer (email with headers) suggests Theora might infringe on existing patents and that 'a patent pool is being assembled to go after Theora and other "open source" codecs now.' Does he know something we don't?" Update: 05/01 00:38 GMT by T : Monty Montgomery of Xiph (the group behind Theora, as well as Ogg Vorbis, and more) provides a pointed, skeptical response to the implicit legal threat, below.Monty writes: "Thomson Multimedia made their first veiled patent threats against Vorbis almost ten years ago. MPEG-LA has been rumbling for the past few years. Maybe this time it will actually come to something, but it hasn't yet. I'll get worried when the lawyers advise me to; i.e., not yet.
The MPEG-LA has insinuated for some time that it is impossible to build any video codec without infringing on at least some of their patents. That is, they assert they have a monopoly on all digital video compression technology, period, and it is illegal to even attempt to compete with them. Of course, they've been careful not to say quite exactly that.
If Jobs's email is genuine, this is a powerful public gaffe ('All video codecs are covered by patents.') He'd be confirming MPEG's assertion in plain language anyone can understand. It would only strengthen the pushback against software patents and add to Apple's increasing PR mess. Macbooks and iPads may be pretty sweet, but creative individuals don't really like to give their business to jackbooted thugs."