Friday, February 23, 2007

mp3 submarine patent

OK, Microsoft licenses, for a pretty penny ($16 million), the right to use the mp3 format with Microsoft Windows. So, what happens. Alcatel Lucent claim that there are other patents that affect the mp3 format that they own. So, they sue Microsoft. and win the case

Keep in mind:
  • Alcatel's issue should not be with Microsoft, but with Thomson, who claimed that Microsoft (and Apple and all the people who make digital music players) had a mp3 license.
  • This affects anything and everything that can play mp3
  • This is a classic submarine patent. For years Alcatel/Lucent had this patent. Now, finally, they sue years after mp3 has basically dominated the compressed music market
  • This is another case for using Vorbis a non-patented music format that sounds better than mp3 at the same bitrate, but, alas, doesn't have portable player support.

Anyway, this decision makes me very angry. The patent law has to be reform to stop this kind of submarine patent litigation. I hope Microsoft wins on appeal.