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Thursday, March 07, 2013
Google Takes Over Licensing Of The VP8 Video Format


Google and MPEG LA today settled their long-running VP8/H.264 patent dispute, and Google has been granted a license to that allows the company to sublicense any techniques that may be essential to VP8 and are owned by the patent owners.

In January 2011, Google announced that support for the widely used H.264 codec would be dropped from Google Chrome. Instead, the company promoted the open-source VP8 and codecs, as an open, patent-free alternative to the AVC/H.264 high-definition video playback standard.

One month later, MPEG LA, the group that manages the licensing of H.264-related patents, announced that it was forming a patent pool and gathering claims from companies that believe they have patents essential to the VP8 codec.

The search giant today entered into agreements with MPEG LA, LLC, which grants Google the right to sublicense those techniques to any user of VP8, whether the VP8 implementation is by Google or another entity. It further provides for sublicensing those VP8 techniques in one next-generation VPx video codec. All these mean that Google and the WebM Project may sublicense those techniques to any VP8 user on a royalty-free basis.

As a result of the agreements, MPEG LA will discontinue its effort to form a VP8 patent pool.

"This is a significant milestone in Google's efforts to establish VP8 as a widely-deployed web video format," said Allen Lo, Google's deputy general counsel for patents. "We appreciate MPEG LA'scooperation in making this happen."

"We are pleased for the opportunity to facilitate agreements with Google to make VP8 widely available to users," said MPEG LA President and CEO Larry Horn.

The VP8 video codec is defined by the WebM Project. Introduced by Google in 2010, WebM is a community effort to develop a media format for the open web. WebM includes VP8, a high-quality video codec originally released by Google under a BSD-style, royalty-free license. The VP8 codec delivers high quality video while efficiently adapting to the varying processing and bandwidth conditions found on today's web-connected devices.

Matt Frost, Senior Business Product Manager for the WebM Project, anticipates having the terms of WP8's sublicense ready in the next few weeks.


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