updated 12:30 pm EDT, Fri July 29, 2011
12 groups tell MPEG-LA Google VP8 copies tech
The MPEG-LA video group's attempts to find patent violations in WebM proved successful as the company late Thursday claimed that 12 companies and organizations had their technology infringed. The so far unnamed dozen said the VP8 video codec underlying Google's format copied technology used in H.264, the standard MPEG-LA supports. The collective was considering forming a patent pool to demand licenses, and MPEG-LA was "facilitating that discussion," CNET was told.
The licensing agency stopped short of saying a lawsuit was incoming but, with Google allegedly infringing, would have to push Google to either license or risk legal action.
Google for its part has insisted WebM is royalty-free and that it doesn't violate patents. Even so, the company has changed its licensing to shield more developers with the anticipation of a lawsuit as a real possibility.
The prospect of a legal battle, along with vested interests in existing work and MPEG-LA, has led Apple and Microsoft to deliberately avoid including any WebM support in their own work. Early adopters are so far limited to Google itself as well as open-source advocates unwilling to pay for an H.264 license for web video, such as Mozilla (in Firefox) and Opera.