[Vorbis] patent issues with Vorbis

Borphee borphee at cebridge.net
Wed Mar 30 08:54:31 PST 2005

(Disclaimer:  I am not a lawyer.  I am not a represenative of Xiph.  I am not a Vorbis developer.  I am more of a bystander who has been curious about the patent situation for a couple of years and have never seen a satisfactory answer.)

Basically, you have to take it on faith that:

1) Xiph really did do a cursory patent review like they claim.

2) That the patent review didn't uncover anything.  Like they claim.

3) That if anybody did hold patents that were infringed, they would have already contacted Xiph, and that Xiph would have disclosed such communications, and changed Vorbis.

Beyond that, it's blind faith....

With patents, basically you either see one that clearly infringes, or it's a "let's wait and see if we get sued" situation.  Nobody has ever funded a thorough patent search (although a few individuals have said they'd throw in a little money to help pay to have one done.)  The only patent search ever done was supposedly a small one by Xiph, but they wont release the results.

Which is why some are very hesitant to include a vorbis encoder with their product.  Or even a vorbis decoder, for that matter.

I don't think the situation is any clearer now than when it was discussed in those links you reference.  And I seriously doubt it's going to get any clearer simply because you've asked.

Which means if you are indeed concerned about patents, and your company is strict about these things, then you are going to have to stay far away from any vorbis support.  (And considering you've already done quite a bit of searching, I suspect your company does indeed care about patents!)

Using vorbis requires faith.  Faith is okay for individuals, but not really for most companies.

(One link you refer to mentioned AOL considering adding Vobis encoding to Winamp.  I don't think that ever occured, did it...  So apparently they backed away too.  So, I would suspect (with no proof) that their team of lawyers either found something or decided it was just too shaky to mess with.  It does have decoding ability, of course.  But that's a simpler situation than encoding.)

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "KumarBraj Bhushan" <kumar.brajbhushan at ittiam.com>
To: <vorbis at xiph.org>
Sent: Wednesday, March 30, 2005 4:01 AM
Subject: [Vorbis] patent issues with Vorbis


We are in the business of developing/productizing Multimedia codecs for embedded systems. Recently, Vorbis has gained good popularity. We are also developing it. 

But we face few problems related to patents. Vorbis claims to be patent free. Is there any particular search made for possible patent infringements and corresponding report published? We need to convince our customers sometime about this issue. 

I have started with patents listed on the website of "www.mp3licensing.com". Some of them are very generic and it appears as if Vorbis code might be infringing upon few of them. They are (with their patent numbers and titles) :

5,384,811: Method for transmitting a TDAC coded audio signal
5,321,729: Method for transmitting a signal using adaptive window functions
5,214,742: Method for transmitting an audio signal using adaptive window functions
5,742,735: Digital adaptive transformation coding method

They are many other patents for stereo processing, which are not of much that concern as the one sited above. Does anyone know about more such patents?

I see some discussion done on the patent issues in this mailing list. Did it stop there only? http://lists.xiph.org/pipermail/vorbis/2003-December/024618.html
In Hydrogenaudio forum also some discussion happened. http://www.hydrogenaudio.org/forums/lofiversion/index.php/t13686.html
What is the current stand of the people/developers associated with Vorbis about the patent issues?


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