[theora-dev] Re: [libdv-dev] DV format patent status

Lorne Covington lorne at mediadog.com
Wed Feb 11 18:45:54 PST 2004

At a party not long ago I had a conversation with a worker in the US Patent Office.  As I had long suspected, they judge patentability pretty much solely on whether the specific idea has already been patented or not.  They do not judge whether it will work or not, whether there is anything but very commonly known prior art, and sadly (despite what they say) whether an average worker in the subject field could be expected to arrive at the same solution.  It REALLY IS pretty much a rubber stamp organization.

If you think about it, for them to do otherwise is putting their ass on the line.  Turning down patents leaves them open for more hassles.  Awarding bonus patents makes hassle for other people - let the market (and courts) sort it out.  I certainly hope some kind of patent reform will happen before too long, but I expect all the money wants things to stay the way they are.

Anyway, just to make this on-topic, this only proves that ANY idea is open to patent litigation, and that if the DV standards do not list patents (as I am sure they are required and in their interest to do so), and/or if in the (if any) license agreement they do not reserve the right to change the licensing agreement, then that's about as good an answer as you're going to get.

                                        - Lorne


At 04:37 PM 2/11/2004 -0500, you wrote:
>On Wed, Feb 11, 2004 at 11:17:05AM -0800, Jay Sprenkle wrote:
>> Sigh. Another case in point:
>> "TVI charges Microsoft's autoplay feature infringes on
>> four of its U.S. patents. TV Interactive Data Corp.
>> (TVI) of Los Gatos, California, claims that Microsoft
>> infringes on four of its U.S. patents, three entitled
>> 'host device equipped with means for starting a
>> process in response to detecting insertion of a
>> storage media' and one entitled 'method for starting
>> up a process automatically on insertion of a storage
>> media into a host device.",
>> http://www.infoworld.com/article/04/02/10/HNmsautoplay_1.html
>There's really nothing that can be done about this kinda stuff.  There's 
>so many patents out there with overly-broad coverage that there's 
>literally nothing you can do online which won't conflict with someone's 
>patent.  Really that stuff is up to the judge, in the end, and how much 
>PR you can spin in your favor.
>What I'm concerned about is patents on DV format by the companies which 
>developed it.  They'll serve as cannon-fodder if anyone has an overly 
>broad patent which they believe covers DV.  But if they have a patent on 
>the format we really do need to get that patent freely licensed if the 
>format is going to be used on free software boxen.  This includes any 
>video editor, whereas if a patent covers the format, support for the 
>format must (at the very least) be handled through a plugin or 3rd party 
>app (ie dvgrab/dvcont).  
>But as previously explained, the patent holders in this case really do 
>have a reason to freely license DV format.  


   Lorne Covington, MediaDog Studios     >   Life is uncertain;
   lorne at mediadog.com                    >          eat dessert first.

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