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Nokia halts Google's VP8 codec dream with patent infringement assertions

Nokia Judge

Nokia has made an intellectual property rights declaration to the IETF (Internet Engineering Task Force) with respect to Google's VP8 data format and decoding guide, listing 64 granted patents and 22 pending patent applications. VP8 is Google's dream to create a royalty-free codec, but it's reportedly not open standard and Nokia is having none of it (to see why, check quote below). The company is already seeking injunctions against HTC in Germany over two VP8 patents.

So what's this all about? Nokia is unwilling to not only commit to royalty-free licensing of patents, but also a FRAND licensing commitment. VP8 is a single-company project and no as such no party can be forced to support it, leaving Google in an interesting position indeed. By contrast, H.264 (video compression standard) is an industry-wide initiative and all companies involved agreed to FRAND licensing form the get go.

This doesn't mean Nokia won't strike a deal with the likes of HTC, should the price be right, but if the company doesn't share the same vision as Google (who does these days?) then it has no obligation to license anything out. It's also interesting to point out that Motorola never joined the VP8 initiative before Google made the purchase. Motorola also reserved the right to enforce any VP8-related patents it might own.

We wonder if the folk at Google frequently play Monopoly on Android hardware. Nokia has since commented on the VP8 patent infringement:

"Nokia believes that open and collaborative efforts for standardization are in the best interests of consumers, innovators and the industry as a whole. We are now witnessing one company attempting to force the adoption of its proprietary technology, which offers no advantages over existing, widely deployed standards such as H.264 and infringes Nokia's intellectual property. As a result, we have taken the unusual step of declaring to the Internet Engineering Task Force that we are not prepared to license any Nokia patents which may be needed to implement its RFC6386 specification for VP8, or for derivative codecs."

Good Guy Nokia

Nokia criticises Google for wanting to push VP8 as an Internet standard - basically viewing the vision as "one company attempting to force the adoption of its proprietary technology." H.264 is certainly classed and viewed as open standard, and is a complete contrast to what Google is attempting to achieve with VP8. One cannot forget that Google owns the largest video sharing website, YouTube. Why wouldn't the company want to try and wiggle through?

It's not just Nokia displaying signs of concern either. Instapaper developer Marco Arment has pointed out in a recent blog post that Google is attempting to "gain control of the web for themselves and their products." Will Nokia end up helping Google out with VP8? Not likely. Who requires VP8 aside from Google? It's not in the best interest of competition, something that Google is renown for.

We're not ones to give Google praise, but sometimes they truly deserve a jolly good spanking. Good guy Nokia strikes again.

Source: FOSS Patents (2)

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Reader comments

Nokia halts Google's VP8 codec dream with patent infringement assertions

71 Comments

I am a Nokia person through and through. I dislike google imposing these 'apparent free' standards on the world just because it can.

Google is building upon their evil ideas. Good thing that Microsoft and Nokia own many patents in both hardware and software to stop google's evil intentions.

Very good to Googles moves to control the internet being resisted.
Webkit for me is an excellent example, from a users point of view I'm not seeing it do something that other technologies already achieve, but it does bring yet another standard to the web browsers (and coincidently their web browser supports it from the get go).  I've not see this sort of messing around with standards since the old days of Netscape vs IE, and I definitely don't want to see dozens of new ways of doing exactly the same thing implemented everywhere.

Are you sure you understand what's going on here? Currently there is no web standard for a video codec to be used with the standard video tag, that is why we have this mishmash. The reason there is no standard is because standards bodies won't put in a codec that requires licensing fees. What google is trying to do is essentially buy a codec then release to the world with no licensing fee thereby allowing standards bodies to finally create a complete standard for web video.

Yes, a new standard run by only one company were they can then hit up other companies for compatibility/licensing fees. I don't believe for one second that Google is creating a new codec out of the goodness of its heart.

Exactly. Although i love chrome but every one remembers how google tried to push ads through chrome but after being exposed pulled it off. Now i am using firefox again because i dont trust google.

no licensing fee? you are kidding me right.. they will control everything if this is implemented and you tell me that is no licensing fee? lol.. they can bump any off they don't like.. like what they are doing now to windows phone 8.. they refuse to allow api access.. oh guess what.. it is free api but they just don't like MS so they don't allow.

If you're talking about the YouTube API, it isn't free - it is proprietary - and Google has valid reasons for not building itself or allowing MS to do so.  
Microsoft wants to use Google's proprietary API that it uses in its native apps and that it licenses to Android OEMs so that it can develop a Metro-style YouTube app for Windows Phone that they (Google) have no part in developing and which doesn't follow its design guidelines.  
It makes the mobile site available freely to unsupported platforms and it is Microsoft that is using mobile IE's proprietary engine instead of Webkit, which is the standard the Mobile site  is optimized for.  If the user base on Windows Phone grows large enough to justify Google creating a native app, it will do so - but it doesn't make sense for Google to expend money, time, and resources on development of a full featured app when the size of the user base wouldn't provide return on investment, and giving away the native API would be giving away a competitive advantage it doesn't allow to anyone just to help Microsoft.

Google is deliberately blocking Microsoft. It's not a license issue. They are specifically blocking Microsoft access. They've done the same thing with Google Maps, and have gotten heat for that too. Stop with this proprietary API nonsense. Microsoft is not seeking nothing that is not available in the public API created for consumer consumption. As long as you abide by googles requisites then you are free to use it. They are specifically blocking Microsoft's device. Like I said before, you are misinformed.

No, Im sorry, but this just isnt true.
https://developers.google.com/youtube/getting_started
The documentation and features of the public YouTube API are posted and Microsoft is perfectly able to develop a YouTube application using this API. What they want is to develop a native client that integrates with hubs, doesn't have view limits, and includes features not supported by the public API.  
 
The full web features not available in the API are features Google reserves for its in-house developed YouTube applications on mobile platforms.  Microsoft wants those features in its client and can't access them, nor can any other third party.  Third party Twitter and Facebook apps have similar restrictions for third parties because they reserve those features for themselves.
 
Microsoft wants special treatment and Google isn't giving it.  They are not being blocked from using documented API features to create their app.

but the documented API does not  allow one to build a competitive app. I would rather see them publish all features while mandating compatibility with their advertisement framewrk than not allow it at all. Isn't that what they really want? Make money through advertising?

Why wouldn't a standard body put a codec that requires a license? I thought that was what FRAND licensing was for. The patent gets added to a standard and the company is required to license it under FRAND terms.

There’s already H265 that’s being developed, yet Google is trying to introduce fragmentation and act as if they own every patent. Then distribute everything stolen via a new standard.

 FRAND participation is (supposed to be) voluntary. Google is trying to force other companies to provide free or cheap access to this technology for their benefit.
so the conclusion is.

If u want something for free ... u can't steal it or force anyone to give it to you.
P.S: I want a free phone, but that doesn't mean I can steal one.

Fragmentation already exists because their is no codec defined in the standards. There is no codec defined in the standards because standards bodies won't define a codec that requires licensing fees to be part if the standard. Google is trying to fix the problem by remedying the second part.

Also, they are trying to pay for these patents.

The only problem with this is that VP8 won't be royalty free (unless google wants to pay all the licensing for everyone, in which case they can do the same with h.264) so all this will do is increase licensing for devs (one for h.264 and one for vp8) and add more fragmentation

More than likely, google will make the codec free, but will put checks in place that make its implementation difficult and hard for other platforms to implement. These are very smart people working for very smart companies we are talking about here. They will find a way to convince us that a cat is indeed a dog. They have become worse than lawyers.

Google is the most evil company at present,In the long run, Google wants the entire web to run on their tech so that they can control it and monetise it.

Can someone explain to me how an open sourced codec with a perpetual, unrestricted patent grant constitutes 'proprietary' while a codec which requires licensing fees is not?

No one is arguing that licensing a codec is indeed proprietary. They are however arguing that Google has a history of using open source code and/or a service and then turning around and finding a way to make their own version of it and shutting out users on other platforms. Ask any person who uses Windows Phone about an official Youtube app or any official Google app. They regularly change up their stuff to break apps.

What are you talking about? It is within Googles every right to cater to the users they want, as long it's not discriminatory of sexuality, age, gender, colour etc., and WP8 is not included on that list.
And if they indeed had broken the GNU General Public License, then I am sure they would have been prosecuted.
Yes, we as WP8 users are annoyed, but don't act like they are acting ilegally.

Would've been easier to accept your explanation if their motto was "Don't be illegal" instead of "Don't be evil".

 

I'm no expert, but I think there is a difference between open source, open standards and proprietary. Also Open does not necessarily mean Free.

I think:

- Open Source: you can access and use its source, usually free. Examples of open source is Android OS.

- Open Standard: a Reference Standards that are supported by many companies and compatible to many, also usually use Frand license fee. Examples of open standards perhaps: GSM, LTE, etc. 

- Proprietary is the opposite of Open Standard, not use by many and limited to the company who develop it. Although, proprietary can become an Open Standard

 

hmm..anyone know what are the advantages of VP8/VP9 compared to H.264/H.265, beside royalty free?
 

H.264 is included in browsers straight out the box as well. Just not in chrome BC google will be removing it if vp8 passes.

This is not true. Mozilla and Opera doesn't support H.264 natively because they don't want to support this closed standard. Get your facts right.

Almost in the same way the East India Trading Co. was trying to control all commerce on the open seas in Pirates of the Caribbean. They act like the good guys but the real good guys try to fight them...

This is actually one of the few situations Google is doing something good for consumers. They are trying to provide a patent free open source codec. There is no way for them to lock down its use any longer as vp8 has been released royalty free and open source. H.264/H.265 is still patent encumbered and requires royalties.

The vp8 codec could be great for developer and content producer freedom.

Nokia is not objectively the good guy here at all.

I own both google and Nokia stock and use a Lumia 920)

@Piotr - Free = ads and more spying. One of the many reasons I like MS services which do have a paid/no ads offerings and alternatives.

Open source does not equal free. People are skeptical in this case as Google has more than once adopted an open source standard and then tweaked it until it became their own proprietary system. Such is the case with synching things from Gmail with non-Android phones.

Dont you remember chrome tried to push ads and after being exposed google pulled it off? Now the reason google pulled it off because chrome has serious competitors in browser market. What is the guarantee after dominating market and pushing their standards they wont try to push ads, spy andeven change the licencing for it? I dont trust google

How can they provide for free while they are paying license fees to Nokia or FRAND. Either they will recover via pushing ads or the OEMs would have to license. Like Android OEMs have to license many MS patents.

Hahaha you probably use Gmail. Keep trusting Google and I'll tell you a story in a couple of years when they show their true colors, once they have a massive monopoly. Nokia, Microsoft, and Apple have to stop Google at all costs.

What I understood is that Google is building a new video codec that will be offered for free. It's called VP8. People will prefer VP8 over H.264 (the existing codec, which is maybe better than VP8 but you have to pay royalties to companies like Apple and Microsoft) because nobody likes to pay. But, like everyhing Google, this new codec infringes Nokia's patents, and Nokia is refusing to license them (Nokia is also involved in H.264 so they do not want a new codec by Google). Google just wants to create this new codec because they will be able to spy on whoever uses them (like they do with GMail and Android). 

2013 was goodbye to google from me and trust me life hasn't been better ever since... I agree I'm deprived of the,shoot load of gizmos google offers but then.., hey I don't want someone spying on me eventually telling me to do what they think... Lemme use my nut and possibly learn off my mistakes...

This is interesting. Google does release tech for free (as in financial payment up front) but they do so with the expectation of having the right to peak in on all who use the tech. This was fine when everyone hated Microsoft and Apple because they were viewed as the underdog trying to do some good in comparison to the 300lb gorillas taxing the life out of the geek that just want to enjoy technology. But now they're the gorilla and "Do no evil" is more like "Don't get caught". They've become just like they're competitors but since they're new money, they don't have the ownership rights to much of anything. This is a nuisance to them so they're trying to put disruptive tech in the environment (android) buy off the decision makers (anti-trust case) or buy those in they're way (Motorola). It will be interesting to see the partnerships forged to hold them off.

A perfect summary of what they are doing.
Thanks to this "disruptive tech" like Webkit I now have to use their browser for example to run it at speed, its almost as if they designed it to run slowly on the other browsers out there (Gecko and trident based), I have standards though so I keep away from anything needing it ;)

Please research VP8 and what its purpose was and you'll understand why Google released it under an irrevocable free license. VP8 has been around since 2008, it isn't new, and Nokia has to prove its patents will stand up.

Releasing VP8 for free wasn't done so that they can "peek in" on anyone, it was so web video has more than one option available as a standard which was developed specifically to avoid patent encumbrances and the MPEG LA tax.

It seems like everyone saw an anti-Google article and jumped on the bandwagon without actually understanding the underlying dynamics, glad the author did such a great job explaining what is actually going on and didn't just rehash FOSS Patents,

We can't even get Google created apps on WP8 out of hate by Google. Why the hell should Nokia give Google the keys to the castle!?!?!? Good job Nokia!!!

Did it ever occur to you that maybe Google just wouldn't see a return on investment in developing native apps for Windows Phone for all its services?  The user base is small and doesn't promise any type of benefit that it can't realize from mobile or web versions of its services.
While there is likely no love lost for MS by Google, they have and will create native apps for its services when it makes financial sense for them to do so.  When the platform user base is so small that native apps don't make sense, the mobile web versions normally meet the need.  Unfortunately, since MS is the only player not using WebKit, WP users are again missing most of the benefits of a smartphone due to design choices by Microsoft.  If you want Google services, buy Android, or iOS, or Blackberry.  You made the choice to pass on Google Services that are fully featured when you bought WP,

Oh just stop. You are being such a hypocrite. At first google wants to help develop software for companies big and SMALL, yet a company can be too SMALL for them to want to consider developing for. You are obviously biased and sucking on that good ol' google teete. And you are obviously misinformed, because MS is not asking google to develop anything, nothing at all. They are just trying to provide some of the services that are widely popular to their userbase. I see no fault in that, google is showing it's malice by not allowing MS to do so. Because, you know, EVERY OTHER COMPANY just started off big and widely successful (apple's iphone comes to mind). You know, because it never needed time to grow an install base. They also publicly stated that they would not support Windows period. And we know how small Windows userbase is.
So why not take your condescending attitude elsewhere. It sure is not needed, neither wanted.

No, I said adoption of VP8 would mean that developers big and small would benefit from not having to pay for H.264. I said nothing about Google wanting to help develop software. Please go read what I wrote.

I also did not say Microsoft is a small company, I said its user base on Mobile was small. Because of that, there likely is little or no monetary benefit to Google to spend time and money building a fully featured YouTube client when the mobile web client fits most needs and was designed for platforms where no native app was developed.

MS is asking to use Google's proprietary API to develop a Metro YouTube app, something Google does not offer to any OEM. Even Android OEMs have to license Google Apps, including YouTube, in order to include them with a stock ROM and the code and APIs for Google Apps are proprietary.

Please tell me why Google would want to let Microsoft freely use its proprietary API to develop a native WP YouTube branded client that it neither developed or controls, doesn't use Google's design language, and rob itself of opportunities it would lose by directing users to the web version with the rest of its services? Google does support Windows - open a web browser and go to Google.com, YouTube.com, Gmail.com. If it made financial sense for Google to develop native Win8/WP8 apps they would likely do so, but it doesn't.

I'm sorry my post offended you, but the last thing I am is misinformed (I use or have used all three platforms on mobile, tablet, and desktop), and just because I don't buy MS as the victim with the YouTube API sob story doesnt mean Im biased.

In case you hadn't noticed, Google and MS are competitors, MS is waging large PR campaigns against Google, and MS also blocks APIs it reserves for IE for Chrome on RT. Where is the business case for Google to do anything to support adoption of Windows Phone or Win8?

For the record, I use Windows 8, have owned a Lumia 900 on Windows Phone, used a 920 on WP8 long enough to determine I didn't like the tradeoffs, and own an XBOX. I use Android and iOS, own shares of both MS and NOK. And unless you're King of the Comments and I somehow missed it, I'll post where I like. Just don't expect me to fawn over MS and vilify Google just because everyone else on the bandwagon is.

Dude relax. And for the matter that you say that Google is developing VP8 for open standards is just a pile of crap. If you read your own comment you will find the answer why. As you said Google has a specific requirements to let someone license their YouTube API. It would be same with VP8. Think about it. They won't develope for WP because of a small userbase and they dont wanna waste money and resources on it and you say they are developing VP8 without profit in mind. I don't buy that. And neither should you.

The YouTube API and VP8 arent even remotely similar. VP8 is a codec, an API is an interface between two applications.

I'll try to explain this as best I can, but please look past your dislike for Google, just this once, and keep an open mind. Ill explain why this is a bad move for users by Nokia and why Google is interested in its adoption as a standard. I won't deny there is motivation for Google, but it's not at the expense of users.

Being an open standard means that support for VP8 encoding and playback is expected for inclusion in web browsers, on devices, and in video encoding software. Adobe Flash and H.264 are video formats that are common, but they are covered by patents and must be licensed.

They want it to be a web standard so that they don't have to pay MPEG LA for web video (as they do now) using the H.264 codec. If it's the sole codec standard, that means all video content will need to be encoded in H.264 and MPEG LA will get paid for that. If VP8 isn't supported, it means you won't be able to see it, just like you can't see Flash video from WP or iOS (now Android), because your device doesn't support it.

Getting it to be a web standard means that browsers and hardware will (or should) have to support it, and it means that there will be an alternative to H.264 that is free to use for everyone.

The motivation for Google is that support as a standard means they can post Youtube content using VP8 most/all devices will support playback. Right now, the only widespread codec with support is H.264, which costs Google or any other website with video content as they have to pay MPEG LA to use it.

VP8 wasn't developed by Google, and the company they bought developed it specifically avoiding patents that required a paid license. When Google bought the company, they released VP8 under a free license that was irrevocable, to encourage support and adoption. After this, the MPEG LA consortium tried to find patents it infringed because it threatened their monopoly on web video (they were investigated for anti-competitive actions as a result).

Again, Google cannot charge for VP8 under the license it was released under - ever. The only profit motive is in not having to pay MPEG LA by having it be widely supported, but they can never change the license even if they wanted to.

If it's supported, it means that you can access the full YouTube site and not have to worry about video not playing as Google can post content for any html5 supporting device and not have to pay a royalty to support that device.

I hope that explains it. I wish the author had explained more instead of just copy pasting FOSS Patents.

Having a bias does not mean you can't use the products. That does not make you neutral. But you stand firm to your beliefs. Your hypocrisy is still clear and evident. You can try to paint google with that good guy brush all you want, it still won't make it true. And blocking the API is Google being anti-competitve. They also block the metadata so that it won't pop up in bing results. I'd like to hear that explanaition. Bing is just a search engine. Why deliberately try to block the results. If your product is better, then there should be no worries, right. Google is deliberately singling out a particular device. But you keep on thinking that it's ok. I know when MS did it in the past, they were called out on it (and should have been). But I guess it's ok because it's some kind of payback now, huh.... SMH, so childish.
Oh, and I never stated that you said MS was small, that was sarcasm. It wouldn't be worth having a discussion if i thought you thought that Microsoft was a small company.

Everything I have stated about VP8, H.264, and the YouTube API are all verifiable. Facts aren't influenced by bias. I've mainly tried to correct misinformation about those items because the author did a horrible job of actually explaining the relevant facts behind VP8.

I've already beaten this to death, but I'll end my contribution to discussion on this topic with two points:

1) Google did not block Microsoft from the public YouTube API or single out Microsoft. Microsoft wants features not covered in the API that Google uses in its own YouTube app not available to 3rd parties.

2) Any site can prevent a search engine from Indexing it. For the same reason Twitter and Facebook don't allow Google to index their sites. Indexing YouTube searches is one way Google monetizes YouTube. If Google offered and MS paid for a license (like Google did with Twitter), then Bing could index YouTube results. But Google does not have to do so for free or do so at all.

Again, I can't change if you think I'm biased nor does it really matter, but you should actually research and understand these things before going off with claims about how evil Google is. Its much more complex than "Google hates Microsoft" or "Google is evil."

Google's plan is to make everything free so that people use their services instead of the existing (H.264, in which you have to pay Apple and Microsoft and several others I think). Once people use their shit, then they can collect more information for their ads. That's why they don't care to offer it for fee; after all they earn their money from ads. Same story happened with Android. OEMs license it cause it's free, then Google has access to every Android owner's life. Luckily  Nokia and Microsoft have IP leverage over those bitches. Android is no longer free and VP8 won't be either. FUCK GOOGLE. 

Does it scare anyone else that one company (google) has such a monopoly on the internet? The internet which is something that is supposed to be for everyone. Example: refusing to back windows phones which kinda cripples us a bit. Just wondering.

 
Ah, so much misinformation.  
Very few of you actually seem to know why VP8 as a standard is good for the entire open web.  Under H.264, which is being built into HTML5 as a standard, any web developer - large or small - who wanted to post a video online or create a video must pay MPEG-LA for use of the standard.  These costs are built into the web through advertising, into software costs, and into hardware costs, like Blu-Ray, phones, tablets, the XBOX, etc.
On2 Technologies, the company that developed VP8, went through painstaking efforts to avoid infringement on any patents in order to make it royalty free and provide a video codec that would avoid the "MPEG LA" tax.  It's been out since 2008, so this isn't a recent development.
 
It was only after Google purchased it in 2010 and released it under an irrevocable free license that that the MPEG LA consortium tried to drum up patents that MAY be infringed by VP8 since Google's ownership and free release of the standard threatened their revenue monopoly on what has become the web video standard.
Companies who want to support both can do so, and VP8 provides a royalty free method of providing web video to more platforms and on more sites.
Google has an interest with its ownership in YouTube, obviously, but so do many others as this will offer a lower cost way to widely distribute web video and reduce costs to end users.  A royalty bearing codec should not be the primary or only standard.
The license Google released VP8 under after they bought it is irrevocable, meaning they can't arbitrarily decide to start charging for it should it become a widely adopted standards - which is the whole point.
Contrary to what that shill on FOSS Patents says, Nokia has to prove that somehow VP8 now violates their patents, even though it has been out since 2008 and the entire point if development was to avoid infringing patents or using technologies requiring a license.  Great reporting by WPCentral - glad to see you can basically rehash Florian Mueller word for word without any type of explanation or research.