JPEG licensing fees?!

JPEG licensing fees?!
Out of nowhere a company called Forgent Networks has came to center of public eye claiming that they own JPEG patents and now claim that all software manufacturers who use JPEG technology, have to pay licensing fees to the company.

The full announcement can be found from here. Sounds pretty amazing, since JPEG has been generally considered as "patent-free" picture format and is probably the most popular image format in the world. There's a huge debate going on over this claim, probably best place to check out people's opinions is (not very surprisingly) Slashdot.

Yet another proof that useless software patents should be removed from patent laws in U.S. and never to be introduced within EU.

Written by: Petteri Pyyny @ 18 Jul 2002 13:30
JPEG Licensing
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  • dreven

    That is complete ignorance, the JPEG format has been used for a decade, and for a company to say they own the patents now, is quite ignorant and devious. There is no way they will win this one, and if they do, then i'll guess i'll have to claim that I invented the cpu... because face it if they win you just have to think to yourself "what is the world coming to?"

    18.7.2002 21:15 #1

  • A_Klingon

    I hate to bring this up, but, you see...... my little sister actually penned the jpeg code as a science project a few years back when she was in Jr. high school.

    She's not thinking of sueing anyone just yet though and says, if you promise to donate now and then to your favourite charity, she won't ask for any fees and you can continue to use your favourite jpeg software.

    -- K.A. --

    19.7.2002 00:29 #2

  • dRD

    Addition to this. According to few news sources, the company we're speaking of, bought the licenses from the original JPEG developers recently and now tries to cash with those as the patents are set to expire at 2006 (patent was granted 1986 and in U.S. software patents are valid for 20 years).

    And still, according to various news sites, at least Sony has already agreed to pay something like $15M to them in licensing fees.


    Petteri Pyyny

    20.7.2002 10:18 #3

  • A_Klingon

    Sure, "grab the money and run", sounds about right in today's ever legally-hostile environment. $15 from Sony? Not to shabby, and they'll have another 4 years to extort a few million more.

    (Wish I had thought of that, but I wouldn't have been able to scrape the up-front money together to buy the jpeg license first.)


    20.7.2002 11:04 #4

  • dRD

    ...still wondering how much it would cost to bribe the patent officers and get a patent to, let's say, number zero...

    And yes, bad thing is that if one paid, the company now has enough $$$ to hire couple of more lawyers to squeeze the money from other companies. Sure, Adobe & co probably have that kinda cash in their back pockets, but how about the little guys who make cool image editing tools, picture viewers and stuff. But then again, Unisys has squeezed licensing fees for GIF usage for years.

    Petteri Pyyny

    20.7.2002 12:09 #5

  • A_Klingon

    The little guys who make cool imaging software must pay the Piper, dRD, so they *have* to make sure that what they create is damned good, and pray that it will catch on. Otherwise, their efforts are in vain. Software patents are insideous, counter-productive, evil things.

    (I'm not trying to convert you to my latest, most fave audio format, .ogg vorbis), *but* there are a series of public audio speeches by a gentleman (Richard M. Stallman), who describes in detail just how convoluted the "software patent industry" has become over the years, and how any crafty lawyer can inflict unjust hardship on just about anyone on behalf of any mega-company with enough $$$ to make it worth his while. All of the flaws, weaknesses, and problems of the US patent system are explored, and he shows how companies can twist, convolute, and mis-interpret current established patents for their own personal gain.

    He gave a series of speeches at England's University of Cambridge, and one particularly gruesome eyeopener was "Software Patents: Obstacles To Software Development", given in March of this year. He shows you how manipulative lawyers can be.

    The speech(es) are in .ogg format at:

    That'll give anyone an idea of what these unfortunate but highly talented "little guys who make cool imaging software" are up against - what they have to potentially face.

    It's brutal.

    -- Mike --

    20.7.2002 18:03 #6

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