Summary: The outrageous nature of software patents and patent trolls who exploit them, as explained by a couple of Web sites
THIS MORNING we wrote about Larry Horn’s MPEG cartel. For those who do not know yet, Horn is a notorious patent troll and OS News provides more background to this (Joe Mullin did a lot of the research and received confirmation from Horn himself). This is an issue that OS News covers quite closely and its latest post says:
Let the spreading of FUD begin! Known patent troll Larry Horn, CEO of MPEG-LA, is clearly feeling the heat – a heat that might set fire to his company’s license to print money. After a decade of empty threats towards Theora, the company is apparently putting its it’s-impossible-to-create-a-video-codec-that-doesn’t-infringe-on-our-stuff attitude into practice once again, by assembling a patent pool to go after VP8. Google, in the meantime, is not impressed.
MPEG-LA not only deals with video. The scope of this cartel is actually much broader, as someone pointed out and showed earlier on in our IRC channels. The following FSF-funded Web site also indicates that “MPEG-LA’s patents [may be] exhausted by camera sale”:
When you buy a digital camera, can holders of video patents claim ownership of your videos? They certainly claim to. When looking into this, I found an interesting 2008 opinion from the US Supreme Court that suggests, to me (IANAPL), that “exhaustion” through “first sale” might save our bacon: Quanta v. LGE.
Here’s the article that raised the problem of cameras coming with “for non-commercial use only” patent licences:
* Why Our Civilization’s Video Art and Culture is Threatened by the MPEG-LA, by Eugenia Loli-Queru
* The 140+ comments
And here’s the 2008 court opinion I’m reading:
* quanta.pdf (Quanta v. LGE)
Patent exhaustion is a well-known principle. It says that the patent holder’s rights/powers are exhausted after the first sale of the patented item.
If anybody is aware of more information about MPEG-LA, please let us know. With an antitrust complaint just filed against MPEG-LA, we need as much information as is available. This troll can be taken down. █