[speex-dev] Is Speex realy patent free?

Jean-Marc Valin Jean-Marc.Valin at USherbrooke.ca
Thu Nov 27 15:42:15 PST 2003

> Take a look at:
> http://swpat.ffii.org/patents/effects/voip/index.en.html

Well, outside of the Speex link, that page seems to be pretty old...

> Is speex realy petant free or does patent free only means that
> is is not patent by the speex authors? Who have checked that
> speex doesn't violates patents others? I don't use IP here,
> because most patents are only used to prevent other people
> to be creative.
> Nonetheless, what the current patent state of speex?

First, we (Xiph.org, me) obviously did not patent Speex. Also, during
development, we were careful not to use techniques known to be patented
and we searched through the uspto database to see if anything we were
doing was covered. The only thing we haven't done yet for Speex is an
"official" (done by a lawyer) patent search. If anyone is interested in
funding such effort, that would be appreciated.

That being said, we cannot offer any absolute warranty regarding
patents. No company does that, simply because of the mess the patent
system is. Even if you pay for a codec, you can't get the guaranty that
nobody else owns a (previously unknown) patent on that codec. It's sad,
but that how things really are.

I'd say that any program you write that's longer than "Hello World" (and
even that!) might be covered by a trivial patent (think 1-click
shopping) you didn't know about. There are probably patents out there
claiming rights on "using a computer for doing useful things" or
something like that. So basically for Speex, all we can say is that we
did our best to avoid patents. There isn't much more that can be done
anyway, regardless of whether you're dealing with open-source or
proprietary software.


Jean-Marc Valin, M.Sc.A., ing. jr.
LABORIUS (http://www.gel.usherb.ca/laborius)
Université de Sherbrooke, Québec, Canada

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