[vorbis-dev] patents and separate entropy coding

David A. Gatwood dgatwood at gatwood.net
Fri Dec 15 11:18:18 PST 2000

On Fri, 15 Dec 2000, Lourens Veen wrote:

> Hi everyone,
> first of all, I searched through the archives for any posts resembling
> this, I didn't read all posts about the patents so if this has been
> suggested before I apologise.
> I read in an article on C|Net (I think, it was linked from Slashdot
> anyway) that Thompson are threatening to sue you if Ogg Vorbis becomes a
> success. Which is evil, and I'm also mad at them because they never
> answered my mail (which was about how to get an mp3 patent license, of
> all things). But I digress.
> Thing is, I understand that they have a patent on compressing audio by
> transforming to the frequency domain, quantising, and then entropy
> encoding, which is what Ogg Vorbis does, so there's trouble.

IANAL, either, but that's awfully broad a patent.  I don't see how it
could possibly hold up.  A patent on a specific method for doing that,
maybe, but not on the general steps....  It's hard to claim that you've
come up with a substantial contribution to the patent if the only thing
between it and prior technologies is what you feed it.  When you look at
ogg-vorbis from such a general perspective, you'd have to consider things
like JPEG as prior art, and at such a general level, the difference is so
subtle that I doubt the patent would have any chance of holding up under
careful scrutiny, if such a patent even exists.

That having been said, it would be nice if a patent lawyer were willing to
look over the patents and offer an opinion.


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