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04/28/2004 Archived Entry: "the JPEG patent"

Whew! Between travelling and tight work deadlines, neither of us has been able to update McBlog lately. Today's will have to be brief.

The Intellectual Property wars are still heating up. I see that Forgent Networks is now suing for infringment of their image compression patent. What's peculiar about this is (a) this compression scheme, JPEG, is part of a published standard; and (b) the patent is expires in less than six months. Groklaw has excellent commentary.

What does this mean for you? Probably not much. If you're using JPEG images on your web page, then -- I as understand it -- the problem falls in the lap of whoever wrote the software you use to create images. (It's that software which is theoretically in violation, not your web page.) If you're creating software which generates images, your choices are (a) wait six months before distributing it, (b) keep a low profile and take your chances (probably quite good if you're a small outfit), or (c) use an open-source format like PNG. I recommend (c).


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