[Theora] Licensing Question

Nick Hill nick at nickhill.co.uk
Tue Oct 25 02:07:50 PDT 2005

To answer this question, you must first consider how patents apply to 

Given that software does not have specific input and output materials, 
patent claims can be formed which are entirely abstract in nature.

Where software patents are sadly permitted, such abstractions can exist 
on a patent database and be pointing at you, but given the abstract 
nature of many claims, you would need to consider every patent claim for 
software in turn against your implementation to determine if there are 
patents restricting the use of the idea. Given the abstract nature of 
software and the claims, a database search will not necessarily yield 
those patents pointing at you. There are perhaps millions of such claims.

Therefore, in a software patent regime, the amount of work just to 
research whether you are using a restricted idea would be outside the 
scope of almost any project.

Probably every non-trivial piece of software less than 20 years old is 
in violation of at least one patent 'legitimately'[1] filed under the US 

There are many software patents filed in Europe, but all purely 
software based patent claims in Europe are probably invalid given that 
article 52 of the European Patent convention specifically excludes 
software from patentability and the EP recently sent a clear signal by 
shooting down the computer implemented inventions directive.

[1]As a democratic citizen, you may question the legitimacy of the 
decision to allow software patents outside of public discourse in the USA.

Further reading:
Recording and transcript of Richard Stallman speech given in Cambridge 
about softpatents:

An anti-swpat site citing many of the problems with software patents:

USA-oriented site researching support for innovation:

Thomas Kuglitsch wrote:
> Hi there,
> I am new to Ogg/Theora and am trying to compare several video codecs as part 
> of my master thesis at the University of Klagenfurt.
> Therefore I have a question: will there be any patents problems using 
> Ogg/Theora in the future? Is/will Ogg/Theora stay free from patents rights?
> This would be a great advantage in using Ogg/Theora instead of e.g. H.264 
> which is covered with numerous patents right now.
> Thanks,
> Kuge
> _______________________________________________
> Theora mailing list
> Theora at xiph.org
> http://lists.xiph.org/mailman/listinfo/theora

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