Patents are ammo in YouTube and Netflix's video wars

March 4, 2011: 10:30 AM ET

The Justice Department is investigating whether a "patent pool" is abusing the system to try and cripple a new Google-developed open-source video standard.

Google's (GOOG) YouTube and other video downloading websites like Netflix (NFLX) license the video streaming technology for the video they provide (called H.264) from a consortium of companies that collectively operate a LLC Patent pool called MPEG LA.  The group says that they are a patent pool or "convenience store" for companies that wish to license video software.  But for those on the outside however, MPEG LA seems more like a monopoly.

In May of last year, a German Software company called Nero filed an antitrust suit against MPEG LA, claiming it "unlawfully extended its patent pools by adding non-essential patents to the MPEG-2 patent pool" and has been inconsistent in charging royalty fees.

A report today says that there could be more legal trouble on the way for MPEG LA. More

  • Google introduces new Web video standard, splits industry

    Google today announced the release of VP8, a new video codec that it envisions will pave the way for the future of video on the Web.

    While it wasn't mentioned once during the keynote, VP8 takes dead aim at MPEG LA's H.264 codec, which has the backing of industry heavyweights like Apple and Microsoft (who are both members of MPEG LA).

    VP8 technology stems from Google's purchase of On2 Technologies last year.  MORE

    - May 19, 2010 3:03 PM ET
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