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What's wrong with this JPEG picture?

Readers slam "Forgery Networks" patent extortion

Letters JPEGs are not free: Patent holder pursues IP grab
JPEG guardians vow to defend free images
No more JPEGs - ISO to withdraw image standard

We've been here before, but it doesn't get any more fun, does it?

It seems there's money-hungry morons out there besides RIAA and MPAA, they'rethe so-called "IP Companies" - law firms that will buy, at bargain basement prices, technology/software patents then vigorously 'defend their IP' (eg, legally extort as many companies as possible) ...

These same morons are to be put on a pedestal and hailed for all eternity. That is, hailed using large caliber weapons, rotten vegetables and all other kinds of unpleasantness (such as Windows buglists).

If these "software patents" (read "Legal Extortion Tool") are not swiftly outlawed, then I predict that pretty soon, content providers provide, err ... nothing, because they simply cannot hack up the kind of cash these legal bloodhounds demand of

A good example is what happened to NetRadio - now imagine this happening to the most trivial of cantrips, processes and underlying technology. I can't think of a better way to grind process to a dead standstill.

To the so-called "IP Companies": Shrivel, die, curl up, and go away. You are a plague to the world at large, one that deserves faster, swifter and more painful treatment than the Evil Empire of His Billness (who, BTW is also guilty of IP leverage - OpenGL anyone ?) [not proven - Letters Ed.]

Jeroen Braamhaar

It is amazing that they could pull such a scam, and more so that they could take in a company with as large a legal staff as Sony must have.

This might be a good time apply for a patent on "the graphical encoding of audible communication". Do you think we could sneak a patent on the written word past the USPTO?

Bob Watkins

You very well could, Bob.

I guess the bad American economy is forcing some companies to act like crack dealers, charging for the product after you've become hooked on using it.

Forgent's actions had to be based on suggestions from their legal dept., I can't see people in marketing and customer relations being too happy about this dog of an idea. It only points out a company's lack of innovation an detachment from its customer base.

Jim Anderson,
Nyack, NY USA

Considering the patent in question was issued in 1986 and was never excercised it seems that the intention was to comply with the spirit of the JPEG movement and provide the underlying technologies for free. Now Forgery ... sorry, that's Forgent ... realising what they own, are trying to cash in on the grounds that they never agreed to this arrangement, former management at Compression Labs did. I wonder if they learnt that one from Carlton and Granada's tactics over the ITV Digital debacle, or maybe they want to be like Compuserve?

Mark Grady

A reader at one of the biggest retailers judges Forgent's claim so:-

Looking at the link to the patent, it appears that the 'related application' (which was abandoned) actually relates more closely to JPEG compression, mentioning discrete cosine transforms as it does.

So far as I know, straight JPEGs use DCT rather than runlength type encoding - see references on for details.

So if Forgent ask my company to pay a license fee, I'll be recommending that we tell them where to get off.

Too much FUD, man!

[name supplied]

Several readers pointed out that the patent was more applicable to MPEG than JPEG. Bruce Jones is one:-

The patent is not a JPEG patent, it is a MPEG patent. Notice the use of intraframe comparison being the basis of the patent (basically how MPEG works). JPEG encoding is a single frame DCT encoding standard.

In general, this patent looks like it was originally written as an IP grab. Note the reference to scaling using binlinear interpolation. This has been how image scaling has been done for many years before '87, and the mention of the method is irrelevant to the real basis of the patent. (It also looks like the patent was written to look more complicated than the method really is).

Inter-frame compression is a technique that applies only to MPEG.

Any comments?

Alan Baker

"Blimey!" is my not entirely helpful comment. So can we throw this upon you, dear readers?

Several recommended PNG - but the PNG format too is clouded by potential submarine claims.

JPEG's call for prior art could be hampered:-

As it happens, US patent law explicitly does not care about any prior art that was not inside the USA.

If it was documented overseas, that will usually pass muster, but prior art overseas that was not suitably documented (relevant scientific journals etc.) is toast.

Thanks to an Indian nuclear physicist for pointing this out: the US can
grant a patent on something that's well known in India, and can then use the WIPO to argue that the US patent-holder's rights should rule supreme in India too.

James Minney

Several of you wrote in to correct a point made by Richard Clark in a follow-up this week:-

The patent in question will expire 17 years from grant, not from filing. The new rule in the US (which I believe came in in the mid nineties), is that a patent term expires 20 years from filing, which is the same as in most of the worldThe patent in question will expire 17 years from grant, not from filing. The new rule in the US (which I believe came in in the mid nineties), is that a patent term expires 20 years from filing, which is the same as in most of the world

Alan Clarke

Thanks too to Chris Kennedy.

What's wrong with this picture? (pun)__The US patent system has been manipulated for many years by pharmaceuticals, computer companies and media companies.__I am sick to death of what should have been a straightforward 13 year patent life extended and manipulated with the consent of the so called governed. No one consented me.__Thomas Jefferson said governments derive their power from the consent of the governed. That's being lost sight of time and again in this country.__Howard Hanek

Thanks for your comments, and keep them coming. Er, now. Latches, anyone? ®

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