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Forgent Settles JPEG Patent Cases 167

eldavojohn writes "As many of you know, the JPEG image compression is actually proprietary. This has resulted in many lawsuits between its owner, Forgent Networks, and other companies that have used it. Yesterday Microsoft and about 60 other defendants settled with Forgent to the tune of $8 million. For a company with annual revenues of $15 million, that's nothing to sneeze at. You haven't heard the last of Forgent yet, as the article states, 'It is currently pursuing claims against cable companies over a patent that it says covers technology inside digital video recorders.' Sounds like that one could be worth a little bit of cash, wouldn't you think?"
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Forgent Settles JPEG Patent Cases

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  • by icebike ( 68054 ) * on Thursday November 02, 2006 @08:02PM (#16697331)
    JPEG patent expired last month, so unless you were sued before, you are safe now.
    The patent was previously ruled to only cover video anyway.

  • by DittoBox ( 978894 ) on Thursday November 02, 2006 @08:44PM (#16697871) Homepage
    You're talking about image formats that have entirely different uses. TIFF is lossless, supports many different bit depths and different types of (lossless) compression. It's suitable for use in print, camera, screen and even HDR applications.

    JPEG is designed almost entirely for preview quality work on 24-bit mediums. It does support 32-bit CMYK but TIFF is still preferred in that area. And it's lossy. JPEG algorithms create much smaller images for non line-art work, with reasonable quality.

    So before you shoot your mouth off claiming "Foo sucks and Bar doesn't," try to realize that Foo is not Bar, and is not meant to be Bar 99% of the time. No matter how hard Foo tries.
  • by kuwan ( 443684 ) on Thursday November 02, 2006 @08:49PM (#16697949) Homepage
    The baseline JPEG format is not proprietary and is not owned by Forgent.

    What happened here is that Forgent sat on a patent while the JPEG format was drafted with the purpose of being open and patent-free. Compression Labs (which Forgent now owns) was a part of the JPEG committee and thus was required to disclose any patents that might deal with the format that the committee was developing. Compression Labs was silent on the matter and Forgent only decided to litigate their patent after many years of silence and after JPEG had become a standard. The patent is likely invalidated by priori art and Forgent is probably also barred by laches due to their delay in enforcing the patent.

    I'd rather that no one settle with them, but the reality is that settling is probably cheaper than litigating.
  • Wrong... (Score:5, Informative)

    by chill ( 34294 ) on Thursday November 02, 2006 @09:33PM (#16698379) Journal
    $8 million is plenty to sneeze at, considering it is a small fraction of what they were asking and had a 43% contingency deal with their lawyers.

    You forgot the best part, which tells why we won't be hearing from them again anytime soon:

    Forgent Networks Ends Assertion of Patent Challenged by PUBPAT

    NEW YORK -- November 2, 2006 -- The Public Patent Foundation ("PUBPAT") announced today that Forgent Networks (Nasdaq: FORG) has stopped asserting its patent against the Joint Photographic Experts Group (JPEG) international standard for the electronic sharing of photo-quality images. PUBPAT successfully initiated a challenge to the patent last year and this week Forgent dropped all of its pending cases asserting the patent and stated that it would not file any other infringement claims based on the patent.

    Forgent Networks acquired the '672 Patent through the purchase of Compression Labs, Inc. in 1997 and began aggressively asserting it against the JPEG standard through lawsuits and the media in 2004. PUBPAT filed its challenge to the patent in November 2005 and the Patent Office rejected the patent's broadest claims in May of this year.

    "By completely ending its assertion of the '672 patent, Forgent has now finally admitted that the patent has no valid claim over the JPEG standard," said Dan Ravicher, PUBPAT's Executive Director. "This utter capitulation by Forgent is long overdue, but a cause for public relief nonetheless."

    More information about the Forgent Networks patent formerly asserted against the JPEG standard, including a copy of the Patent Office's Office Action rejecting its broadest claims, can be found at http://www.pubpat.org/forgentjpeg.htm [pubpat.org].

In seeking the unattainable, simplicity only gets in the way. -- Epigrams in Programming, ACM SIGPLAN Sept. 1982