AT&T warns Apple of video patent infringement | iLounge News


AT&T warns Apple of video patent infringement

AT&T claims that Apple and others are infringing on its MPEG-4 video compression patents. Looking for global licensing agreements, AT&T has targeted Apple, CyberLink, DivX, InterVideo, and Sonic Solutions as companies whose products use the MPEG-4 technology. AT&T has also reportedly contacted national retailers that sell products from the companies, informing them that they may be held liable for infringement.

“With the recent explosion of products that use the MPEG-4 standard, including Apple’s video iPod and Creative’s Zen Vision:M, AT&T could stand to gather a financial windfall from its patented technology,” reports PC Magazine. “An increasing trend in mobile phone multimedia also signals potential future profits to be made through the global licensing program.”

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So patent holders camp out on a technology until it becomes popular and widespread and practically ubiquitous and then pounce trying to collect a big payout?

Does the law allow this? And if so, why? Enforcing your patents through licensing doesn’t hold back technology (DVDs, for instance) so why do it this way if it isn’t to shakedown a healthy industry for a windfall?

Why, greed, of course. Heh, and I thought mathematics (which is basically what an MPEG-4 codec algorithm is) couldn’t be patented. Someone at the patent office needs to get smacked around a little.

Posted by Semantics on February 10, 2006 at 11:55 AM (CST)


“Does the law allow this? And if so, why?”

I agree. Everyone should be able to freely copy the iPod’s click-wheel and Apples iTunes.

Posted by Joshua on February 10, 2006 at 12:35 PM (CST)


Semantics: and your point is? All patents are BAD? What kind of reality is your head spinning in?

Before spouting, you keep in mind that for the longest time the original AT&T WAS a significant technology company, one that made key developments in data and communications, as well as took many of those developments to market themselves. If indeed they hold patents that are being trampled on, then WHY NOT defend themselves and their intellectual property, even if its the NEW AT&T (once known as SBC) who’s really behind all this.

They, unlike a holding house like NTP (SBC WAS an AT&T subsiduary, after all, so it’s more like keeping it in the family), didn’t go out and buy these patents and then sit on them waiting for the BlackBerrys of the world to fall into their trap. And as for math and algorithms and how “patentable” they are; the Patent Office patents ideas and concepts, period. If math is used to develop the idea, then so be it. Considering how many patented physical items use mathematics to make them possible, your premise would even call into question that even their IP is undefensible. I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised, since it seems to you that ANY idea should be open to stealing.

People have been given the right to protect the concepts and ideas that they come up with for good reason, otherwise where’s the point in coming up with the idea in the first place? Benevolence in sharing with the jerks who crawl out of the gutter and take them for their OWN greedy purposes? Yeah, right.

When it comes to the issuance of patents, the ONLY things I have against the Patent Office are that there are occasional times that they seem too dense to comprehend the tech involved, and the concept of ‘prior art’.  As for the patent applicants themselves, what I dislike is when a person or group receives a patent and then does NOTHING with it, only to have it sold and bought and then resold until years later its nothing more than fodder for lawsuits. If an applicant successfully gets a patent, then there should be some ground rules that they must actually do something other than file lawsuits over it years down the road. If they themselves or through licenced third-parties don’t bring a resultant product to market over the period of say, 2-3 years—perhaps more if the tech is considered more complicated—then the patent should be considered null and void, and any and all ideas once protected by it then be open for anyone to use.

The irony about this is that without the buyout by Baby Bell SBC I doubt the old AT&T leadership would’ve even thought about defending their technology patents, with them being so deathly worried about the survival of their wholly outdated long-distance network.

Posted by flatline response on February 10, 2006 at 2:36 PM (CST)


Bravo, flatline!

It amazes me how these Apple fanboys (I’m guessing here, but, “if it barks like a dog, scratches fleas like a dog, wags it’s tail like a dog, then…”) take such hypocritical stances whenever anything APPLE or iPOD takes a negative PR hit. Isn’t this how Apple built it’s empire through it’s proprietary computer systems in the 1980’s? You couldn’t use a macintosh without using Apple’s hardware peripherals or software applications. And if you were a third-party manufacturer, you couldn’t provide these items without explicit approvals from Apple via licensing agreements (fees)! semantics got it all wrong!

Posted by lacene on February 10, 2006 at 3:21 PM (CST)


The key word here is “claims”.  Just because AT&T claims something, does not make it true.

Ain’t it funny how Apple fans (fanboys, as you say) like to hang out at a Apple related sites (iLounge) to discuss Apple related products and attempt to defend Apple against AT&T’s “claims”.  Hmmm, then again, maybe it ain’t so funny.  Gosh, it might even make sense.

So, what are you doing here, again?

Posted by TheRaven on February 10, 2006 at 3:45 PM (CST)


“It amazes me how these Apple fanboys”

Mainly they’re ill-educated kids with very large chips on their shoulders. Why else would they spend so much of their time defending a device which is so cheap? Indeed, it’s because, in all likelihood, that they’ll never be able to afford really decent cars and houses that they feel they must defend at all costs the only thing they’ll ever own which is prestigious (in their eyes, at any event).

Posted by Joshua on February 10, 2006 at 5:10 PM (CST)


Flatline and Joshua
You guys are making some pretty big judgements here. The annoyance you have at actual fanboys may be justified at least a little, but really are you in a position to tell someone what to say about a company they are a fan of? As an example, I’m willing to assume most Americans will be rooting for the American team in the winter olympics. Not because the Americans are the better athletes necessarily, or because they have a better life story. No they simply want their country to win. Are these people “America fanboys”? Are they not allowed to cheer for who they prefer simply because they want to? That’s what you’d have anyone believe, telling someone defending Apple that they’re an “ill-educated kid” and somehow inferior. Are they even affecting you? No, so get off your pedestal and let a fan be a fan.
In any case, the response by Semantics wasn’t even Apple fanboyism. He has a real complaint here that I agree with. MPEG-4 is not a new technology. No one at AT&T suddenly woke up and said, “Hey, our idea is getting used a whole lot! How come no one noticed?” It’s been in widespread use for quite a while and for AT&T’s sudden decision to “protect” their idea comes at a mighty beneficial time for them. If this was about the idea, they would have made a deal of it a long time ago. It’s only now, with the increasing popularity of personal video players, that AT&T decided they should cash in. It’s not illegal, just slimy. All it shows is that there are flaws in our copyrighting system, but that’s been known for years.

Posted by Joshdude on February 10, 2006 at 5:47 PM (CST)


Software patents are the spawn of the devil. 

Semantics: It’s a trick called the submarine patent, and while it’s evil it is unfortunately not against the law. 

Joshua: I happen to think user-interface patents are absurd, the clickwheel is borderline at best regarding its patentability in my opinion.

Posted by phennphawcks on February 10, 2006 at 6:19 PM (CST)


<i>MPEG-4 is not a new technology. No one at AT&T suddenly woke up and said, “Hey, our idea is getting used a whole lot! How come no one noticed?

Posted by flatline response on February 11, 2006 at 3:24 AM (CST)


It’s amazing how many of these so-called patent holders come out of the woodwork AFTER a good product is released.  It was their own damn decision (or indecision) to not produce a product out of their ideas.  These types of patents should be disallowed.  There should be a time measurement between when the patent was requested and the product implementation.  Where the product could have been reasonable created within a certain timeframe and isn’t the patent should be declared null and void.

Apple brought the product to the people AT&T didn’t.  Apple shouldn’t be punished for it.  Where it can be shown it wasn’t stolen and the technology was developed in-house, Apple’s products should get just as much protection.

Posted by Frank Z on February 12, 2006 at 7:48 PM (CST)


That’s funny flatline, I can’t find where I said in my post that you said that. Maybe try following your own advice next time.

Posted by Joshdude on February 12, 2006 at 8:20 PM (CST)


Yet one more sorry attempt by a crippled disfunctional old corporation to manipulate our legal system to their advantage… AT&T is clinging to anything they can find in order to prolong their life.

Hopefully investors will see through this transparent & futile attempt to capitalize on other work for what it is: an act of desperation.  AT&T should be aware tha the only way to create long-lasting share-holder value is not by picking fights over intellectual propertie (specialy when this fight is related to a world-wide multi-corporation standard) but by creating value from within the company with innovative products and services.

Shame on AT&T

Posted by HLebron on February 13, 2006 at 2:52 AM (CST)


“The annoyance you have at actual fanboys…”

Obviously you even have trouble reading your own posts.

Posted by flatline response on February 13, 2006 at 6:22 AM (CST)


...really are you in a position to tell someone what to say about a company they are a fan of?

In case the first example wasn’t enough…

Posted by flatline response on February 13, 2006 at 6:23 AM (CST)


A file format should not be allowed to be patented. Period! Why would it be? It makes no sense. If someone edits the MPEG file format to make MPEG-4, I would think it ridiculous to be able to patent it. Its BS IMO. I think AT&T just wants money. They are losers. And remember, SBC Global IS AT&T considering they bought it. Shame on them, and to think I use there internet services.

Posted by jazzeripod on February 14, 2006 at 4:37 PM (CST)


I would like to add onto what I just said that I think SBC Global is just using their new found powers that AT&T had, by pushing everyone around, in hopes to get some $$$. It is very wrong and I think they should NOT be allowed to patent an edited version of the popular MPEG format.

Posted by jazzeripod on February 14, 2006 at 4:38 PM (CST)


Those AT&T boys are Pulling a SCO boys and girls!!!!  They say they have proof and are showing NOTHING!!  They want everybody to bend over for them and give them green, well any attorney that has any common sense will see the SCO LINUX link written all over the way this is being handled.  AT&T wants everybody to show their hand cause they themselves don’t have JACK!!!

Posted by Bshifley on February 15, 2006 at 9:52 PM (CST)


Pay some more attention next time, you’ll notice I addressed both you and Joshua, who did make comments about fanboys. The world does not revolve around you, you know, though apparently you feel it does.

Posted by Joshdude on February 21, 2006 at 4:41 AM (CST)

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