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

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)

Rich Edmonds
Senior Editor, PC Build

Rich Edmonds was formerly a Senior Editor of PC hardware at Windows Central, covering everything related to PC components and NAS. He's been involved in technology for more than a decade and knows a thing or two about the magic inside a PC chassis. You can follow him on Twitter at @RichEdmonds.