[opendtv] OFFLINE, Patent use and abuse
- From: Craig Birkmaier <brewmastercraig@xxxxxxxxxx>
- To: OpenDTV Mail List <opendtv@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
- Date: Mon, 15 Feb 2016 14:40:07 -0500
I’m taking this off-line again - it was mostly a personal dispute anyway…
On Feb 13, 2016, at 7:54 PM, Manfredi, Albert E
Craig Birkmaier wrote:
Another standards battle to entrench intellectual property and
create new royalty streams...
So exactly as I had predicted, Craig denied having been negative wrt HDR
algorithms, until, that is, Apple was mentioned as a possible player. At
which point, the idea became "interesting.”
I prefer to think of my original comment on 1/29 as acknowledging reality.
Clearly companies like Dolby are interested in generating royalties from their
IP - they don’t manufacture stuff, so royalties are how they pay for the R&D
and make a profit.
I may well have said at some point that there are multiple
proposals for the HDR standard.
You were negative about another royalties battle, as you always are about
royalty battles, as you have been very many times relating to ATSC 1.0, and
much more recently ATSC 3.0. Nothing wrong with that, if you're consistent,
even if it's naïve. Nor would I have commented, except for the rather obvious
about-face. So here we are, belaboring the obvious to death.
So here’s the deal.
There were good reasons that the founders put the concepts of royalties and
copyright into the Constitution. Just as they labored to guaranteed our liberty
and physical property rights, they understood that intellectual property has
significant value - they REQUIRED Congress to legislate the means by which
inventors and authors would be protected and compensated. They also understood
that society would benefit from the rapid proliferation of inventions, rather
than having the inventor protect their inventions as trade secrets. Patents
were the compromise - you could publish the invention then license it to
My educated guess is that the founders did not anticipate a future in which
companies would sell intellectual property rather than using it to make stuff;
I’m not thrilled by the concept, but as long as a company licenses its
technology on a fair and reasonable basis to all comers, I’m comfortable. The
founders certainly did not envision companies buying up patents that were never
used to make stuff, then sue companies who may have infringed on that IP - we
have a huge problem with patent trolls.
Likewise, copyright was created to protect the work of authors. The original
term was 14 years; if the author was still living THEY could request a 14 year
extension. Music was not covered by copyright until the player piano enabled
“mechanical reproduction.” Now corporations can protect a copyright decades
after the author dies. It’s currently 70 years.
So I have some very deep concerns about the way patents in particular are used
as weapons, and how they can be created to build b barriers to competition.
I worked inside the ATSC process and know how corrupt that process was. Dittos
for the abuse of ISO//MPEG, especially the MPEG-2 standard; I worked on
extensions of that standard and learned how it had been subverted.
To bring both into perspective, I attend a high level conference on Cape Cod, a
week before the announcement of the Grand Alliance. The conference was put
together by the MIT Media Lab, and the topic was HDTV Video formats. We left
that meeting with a handshake agreement that the 1125 line interlaced HDTV
format developed by NHK and Sony would not be included in the standard - that
only progressive scan formats would be included (which meant that existing
interlaced SDTV formats would be de-interlaced prior to encoding for emission).
A week later the Grand Alliance was announced - Sony agreed to make a minor
change to 1125/60i reducing the number of lines to 1080 to better match up with
the MPEG-2 macro block structure.There were no SDTV formats, just 1080i and
Then at the last moment in 1995, Fox put pressure on the FCC to add support for
SDTV and multicasting. I attended another meeting to discuss what became Table
3, at the K-Street offices of Richard Wiley, a former FCC Chairman and Chairman
of the Advisory Committee on Advanced Television Services. We had about a dozen
people signed up to make proposals (including myself). We each got five
minutes, then everyone broke for lunch. The ATSC team had such in Wiley’s
office then three hours later the meeting reconvened and table 3 was revealed.
So you don’t need to tell me I went negative on the ATSC - you bet your ASS I
did, and for good reason. Several people were discussing the possibility of
bringing a lawsuit against the FCC and the ACATS process.
As for changing my tune on HDR, I'm certainly not negative about the need for
the standard. I can only hope that the process is above board and that the
royalty structure is reasonable.
I was intrigued by the take that Crinkly had with respect to using the HDR
patents as a bargaining chip. That’s one of the reasons I posted the story. I
also thought that the article did a good job informing about what is going on
and what is at stake.
Cashing in on royalties is not Apple’s style - they cash in on the products
that are built around all kinds of intellectual property - they pay far =more
in royalties than they receive. And hardly a week goes by without a new lawsuit
from a patent troll or some group that thinks they can make hay with a class
Apple did go after Samsung, and won, for good reason. Samsung blatantly copied
the iPhone, and at trial it was revealed that they had teams of people assigned
to copying everything Apple did. Meanwhile, a bunch of companies that had IP in
the telco standards used in cellphones went after Apple.
These standards require participants to agree to license their technology under
FRAND rules. Typically the chip manufacturers who use these technologies
collect the royalties. But Apple started making a lot of money with the iPhone
and several of these companies wanted a bigger piece of the action. Motorola
wanted 1% of the sale price for every iPhone.
The idea that Apple could use HDR to negotiate its way into some of the deals
it needs to launch a VMVPD service is intriguing. It also runs counter to my
concerns about patent abuse. But that’s the way the game is played these days.
Really? Even that isn't the case. I picked up right away that the article was
written by someone who was trying to give Apple some role in 4K TV, even if
not to make any TV.
Apple is already deeply involved in 4K TV. The Mac and Final Cut Pro are used
to edit all kinds of high end 4K content today. and the new iPhones and iPad
Pro can shoot and edit 4K. The next version of Apple TV will likely support 4K
streams as some Roku boxes do today.
Instead, this is what you said…
This is a very interesting article...not a Apple "Fan Boy" piece.
It is about technology leverage and the future of TV.
[To which I replied, Craig,]
Just another company potentially looking for royalties, Craig. Nothing
at all. The author of this piece is trying to find a role for Apple,
Obviously the author was suggesting that Apple buy Dolby. I clearly asked you
and the rest of the group to look past that at the meat of the article. Only
you put the emphasis on the least important part of the article.
I read, "not a(n) Apple Fan Boy piece," from you, Craig. Sometimes, it's
truly best not to continue arguing.
You read it but decided but the meat you saw was “Apple.” I explained the
importance in my response.
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