AT&T Claims MPEG-4 Patent Infringement

Discussion in 'MacBytes.com News Discussion' started by MacBytes, Feb 14, 2006.

  1. macrumors bot

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2003
    #1
  2. macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Feb 14, 2006
    #2
    just another guy trying to get a slice of the ipod pie.
     
  3. macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Sep 20, 2003
    #3
    Wait. I'm confused. AT&T wants money for MPEG-4 when they're not the group that owns the license to MPEG-4?
     
  4. Editor emeritus

    longofest

    Joined:
    Jul 10, 2003
    Location:
    Falls Church, VA
    #4
    They are saying that the MPEG-4 group should have never gotten the license because the technology violated their patent.

    Not agreeing with it, just explaining it.
     
  5. macrumors 65816

    autrefois

    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2003
    Location:
    Somewhere in the USA
    #5
    I have no idea if Apple et al. are infringing on AT&T's patent. Assuming hypothetically they are--certainly it didn't take AT&T 7 years to figure this out. They obviously decided to wait back and let companies innovate using whatever part of the MPEG-4 technology they believe is theirs. That way they could swoop in to claim royalties off of others' innovation. That would be devious, but not illegal as far as I know. I think I'd have to hear more about the case to be sure what I think.

    In other news...
    It could be worse though, imagine if they faced bass damages. (a little musical humor there, sorry :))
     
  6. macrumors G3

    iMeowbot

    Joined:
    Aug 30, 2003
    #6
    The company now called AT&T is not the same AT&T from a few months ago. SBC bought out the AT&T assets and then adopted the AT&T name. The purchase would have inevitably included a review of things like patents, and so the new management is now seeing how some money can be extracted from them.
     
  7. macrumors 68040

    shamino

    Joined:
    Jan 7, 2004
    Location:
    Purcellville, VA
    #7
    SBC has a long reputation for underhanded business ethics.

    And now they've got AT&T's patent portfolio.

    I think we're seeing the dawn of the next SCO.
     
  8. macrumors 68000

    SPUY767

    Joined:
    Jun 22, 2003
    Location:
    GA
    #8
    Ha!

    Apple legal doesn't put up with this sort of thing. AT&T, hypothetically, blew a load into a new technology called MPEG-4. Didn't do a damn thing with it. Sat around for 7 years while others, Mainly apple and the DivX people, nurture a technology and make it what it is today. Then, 7 years later, AT&T comes back, says hey I was tappin that years ago. Sure, I left her for dead in a urine-soaked alley, but now I want her back because the two of you rescued her, nursed her back to health, and got her implants and a face-lift. Bottom line, and excuse the wacky analogy, MPEG-4 is what it is not because of AT&T, but because of Apple Computer, and the DivX group. AT&T wants money for something that they had no hand in creating.
     
  9. macrumors 603

    SiliconAddict

    Joined:
    Jun 19, 2003
    Location:
    Chicago, IL
    #9
    And absolutely NONE of that matters if AT&T's claims hold up.
     
  10. macrumors 68040

    shamino

    Joined:
    Jan 7, 2004
    Location:
    Purcellville, VA
    #10
    All absolutely true, but that means nothing. The patent system explicitly allows this kind of behavior.

    If you're a big company, you can extort money from individuals and smaller companies. If you're a small guy that can't afford massive lawsuits, you've got a piece of paper you can hang on the wall.

    When two large companies go against each other, usually both have a large patent portfolio. One's threats are countered by threats of lawsuits for infringing other patents. When they get bored with the press releases and sabre rattling, they end up cross-licensing each others tech and go on with life as if nothing happened.

    In this case, it gets more interesting because Apple and others have paid for licenses from MPEGLA. MPEGLA might decide to sue AT&T over this, since this suit would affect every MPEG license holder. This could become very interesting. Especially if AT&T never made ISO aware of these patents before now.
     
  11. macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    May 18, 2003
    Location:
    Rehoboth Beach, De
    #11
    Not necessarily true. Federal courts have ruled against patent holders who have failed to prosecute their patent claims, one of the most famous ones against Jerome Lemelson who holds a patent on barcode technology. His patents were ruled unenforcable because he sat on his hands and did nothing, granted it was for 18 years, but the precedent exists. Apple will have a defense to SBC's patent trolling.
     
  12. macrumors 68040

    shamino

    Joined:
    Jan 7, 2004
    Location:
    Purcellville, VA
    #12
    That's different. Patents expire after 17 years. Waiting until after expiration to get money from "violations" that you ignored while it was in force is different from selective enforcement while the patent is active.

    Note, for example, the Unisys LZW patent (affecting the GIF file format) that was selectively enforced against CompuServe/AOL and a few other companies long after GIF became an internet standard. (BTW, that patent has since expired, so GIF is now unencumbered.)
     

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