[theora] Theora patent question

Jason Self jason.self at gmail.com
Sat Oct 10 23:01:53 PDT 2009

On Oct 10, 2009, at 10:20 PM, Shayne Wissler wrote:

> Here is a blog entry from 2007 discussing the potential "submarine
> patent" problem as it related to Theora:
> http://www.bluishcoder.co.nz/2007/12/video-element-and-ogg-theora.html
> Here's a more recent discussion that indicates that Apple's problem
> with Theora is precisely from the issue I tried to underscore: that no
> one has been sued over Theora precisely because it hasn't been
> embraced by a large company yet, and there's a risk of submarine
> patent if they do:
> http://lists.whatwg.org/pipermail/whatwg-whatwg.org/2009-June/020620.html
> This is not "FUD", this is the fact of life for people who try to
> write any kind of software nowadays.
> Suppose Apple did adopt Theora, and the submarine came up (and
> supposing one is indeed lurking, we should expect it to wait until
> broad adoption). Then what happens to all of us small-time/non-profit
> users? Right now we're OK, but after that, it seems we'd be screwed.

Submarine patents are an issue for the entire software industry, not  
just Theora. It seems that the folks at Xiph are doing the best they  
can under the circumstances (referring back to Gregory's message about  
the work that they do.)

In the unlikely event that some claim were made that Theora is  
infringing on some patent in some way, I am sure that everyone will  
make every effort to either to work around the patent,  or work to  
invalidate the patent.

If you're truly concerned about the potential harm of software patents  
it seems that the best action is to help eliminate them (by way of  
example only, by assisting the EFF with their work with invaliding  
software patents, or helping to lobby for their elimination in the  
first place.)

> But none of this bears directly on my original question in this  
> thread.

It appears that your original question was:

> 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?

It appears that Gregory responded to that. See [1].

[1] http://lists.xiph.org/pipermail/theora/2009-October/002902.html

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