Third Nokia patent takes the field against VP8
It has now been revealed that Nokia's recent submission to the United States International Trade Commission (ITC) alleges that HTC smartphones are infringing six US patents. According to a report by patent commentator Florian Müller, one of these (US 6,711,211) describes methods that are apparently infringed by Google's VP8 video codec. VP8 is currently being proposed for standardisation with a number of organisations.
The patent, granted in 2004, is entitled "Method for encoding and decoding video information, a motion compensated video encoder and a corresponding decoder". In a document submitted to the ITC, Nokia explains in some detail, illustrating with source from VP8 open source code, how it believes VP8 is infringing on claims made in its patent. All devices which run Google's Android 2.3 or later are able to play VP8 videos. According to Nokia, this means that the HTC One also infringes this patent.
In Germany, Nokia has filed lawsuits against HTC with Mannheim District Court alleging infringement of patents affecting VP8. The patents in question are European patents EP1206881 (Apparatus and method for compressing a motion vector field) and EP1186177 (A method and associated device for filtering digital video images). A verdict on the first case is expected on 31 May 2013.
Google is attempting to establish its video codec as the standard for HTML5, at the IETF and with the MPEG group at ISO. It initially advertised the codec as unencumbered by royalty bearing patents, but in March 2013 concluded licensing agreements with 11 members of the MPEG LA consortium which owned patents which may have been infringed by VP8. Google's proposed cross licence, which VP8 users will have to sign up to, is controversial. Nokia has previously stated that 64 of its patents are infringed by VP8. Nokia says that it is not prepared to license these patents under royalty-free or FRAND (fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory) conditions as, according to Nokia, Google's "proprietary" VP8 codec offers no advantages over already generally accepted video standards.