Who’s At Fault Here?

Audio & video coding / decoding
June 1, 2020
patent pool featuredimage

For the most part, the editorial response to Sisvel’s AV1/VP9 patent pools has recognized the appropriateness of the pools and their formation. That is, a group of patent owners discovered that AV1 and VP9 infringed upon their patents so they formed a pool to gain compensation from this usage and enable the fair and legal commercialization of these codecs. However, some articles have criticized Sisvel and the patent owners for “imposing a toll on the streaming video highway,” with bloggers being even more obnoxious and critical. Here we explain once more our position.

It’s beyond interesting that these writers position Sisvel and the patent owners as the “bad guys” here, and give a total pass to the parties who have consistently misstated that their technologies are royalty-free and don’t infringe upon third-party IP. However, while forming the pools, Sisvel performed two layers of due diligence that revealed just the opposite; that both VP9 and AV1 use IP contained in the pools.

To be clear, neither Google or AOM asked Sisvel pool members if their use was acceptable; they simply integrated the pool owners’ IP into their codecs. A simple analogy helps illustrate the correct positioning of the parties.

Suppose you owned some property. Without your knowledge, a third-party advised others that they could build houses on your property, and they did so. You later discover this and ask for fair compensation. Who’s at fault here? The third-party who started it all, or you the property owner? In Sisvel’s view, and indeed the view of most who have written about the pools, it’s clearly not the property owner.

Similarly, who’s at fault regarding AV1/VP9? The groups that have consistently misrepresented the royalty-free nature of their technologies while misappropriating third-party IP? Or the pool members who after two layers of due diligence can prove that Google and AOM are leveraging the pool member’s IP without compensation?

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