[theora] Theora patent question

Remco remco47 at gmail.com
Sat Oct 10 01:30:09 PDT 2009

On Sat, Oct 10, 2009 at 10:00, Shayne Wissler <wissler at gmail.com> wrote:
> Does the reason Theora is relatively safe from patent infringement
> lawsuit have more to do with it actually not being encumbered, or is
> it because its use is decentralized?
> For example, FreeType is not patent-free, nor is Linux, yet they
> succeed because on the one hand, they are open source, and those who
> maintain them do not guarantee anything regarding patents, it is up to
> each individual user to deal with those issues; and on the other hand,
> the very fact that it's not one but many infringers makes it far more
> difficult for a patent troll to extract anything. People use Linux
> even though Microsoft (for example) is known to have patents that
> cover parts of it; and people could probably use the patented
> algorithms in FreeType without being worried about a suit.
> I for one doubt that Theora truly does not infringe on some patent or
> other, because I believe that the way the patent system works today,
> it is impossible to write anything of significance without
> accidentally "trespassing" on this or that patent.
> Shayne

Xiph have investigated the matter and came to the conclusion that
Theora probably doesn't infringe on any patents. 'Probably not' is
about the best you can get for a patent situation. Xiph can't make
their findings public, because if they would, it would give attackers
a list of patents that are probably not infringed, but can still be
sued for.

Freetype has a few known patented technologies, which are #ifdef-ed
out at compile time by default. No known patented technology is being
used by default.

Linux infringes on no known technologies. Microsoft says Linux is
infringing on $scarynumber of their patents, but they deliberately
don't list them. OIN bought a few patents from Microsoft, which turned
out to be quite dubious. As always, the scare of patents is enough to
make money off of.

Software patents suck.


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