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Nokia deflates Google's video codec thought bubble

VP8 proposals face fight from the Finnish

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Nokia has published an IETF patent declaration that could spell trouble for Google's hopes to pitch VP8 as a new standard codec.

Google has put forward VP8 as part of the WebM project, and has put forward various IETF documents, such as RFC 6386, this draft (data formatting and decoding) and this (RTP payloads).

Mountain View bought On2 Technologies last year for $106.5 million in stock to get its hands on On2's video compression algorithms, which became the basis for the VP8 codec. Earlier in March, it announced a licensing agreement via MPEG LA that gave Google the right to use and sublicense VP8 to other companies.

Nokia, however, has other ideas. It's filed an intellectual property statement covering RFC 6386 listing 64 patents and 22 pending applications which, according to the Finnish company, are relevant to VP8.

In the IP statement, Nokia says is will not commit either to donating the patents to the IETF standard, nor does it offer FRAND access to the technologies.

While telling FOSS Patents it's an “unusual” statement, Nokia says the move will stop the Chocolate Factory from forcing its “proprietary” VP8 on an unwilling world when Google's offering is (says Nokia) no better than the existing H.264.

MPEG's status as a proprietary technology – it is, after all, controlled by its long list of licensees, from Dolby down to The Trustees of Columbia University in the City of New York and a couple of NPEs – appears to bother Nokia less than giving Google a free hand to set future Web standards.

The problem that gave rise to VP8 and WebM, namely Mozilla declining to support H.264 in 2010 for fear that it might be target of an patent bomb from MPEG LA, the overseer of MPEG IP, has therefore passed. That arguably leaves the future of WebM less urgent than when Google first announced the format. ®

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