Another Round Of Patent-opoly Begins: AT&T Warns Apple, Others On MPEG-4

AT&T is warning Apple and other companies (CyberLink Corp., DivX, Inc., InterVideo, Inc., and Sonic Solutions) that use of MPEG-4 without a license from AT&T infringes on its patents for video compression. According to PC Magazine, AT&T has also warning national retailers of potential liability for selling products from those companies. The magazine obtained a copy of the December 2005 letter from Michael J. Robinson, licensing director of AT&T Intellectual Property Management: “Each of these companies has been advised that they are offering infringing products, that AT&T can provide proof of infringement, and that AT&T is offering a license under reasonable on non-discriminatory terms. … If your company obtains MPEG-4 products or software from any of these companies, or any other unlicensed company, you are responsible for obtaining a license directly from AT&T or run the risk of distributing infringing products.” An AT&T spokesman told the magazine that the company is in discussions with a number of companies; Pentax and Nero have licensed AT&T’s technology.
PCMag does a very good job of explaining the patent and licensing issues for MPEG if you’re looking for more background.

Update: Patent lawsuits hit tech titans: As this article points out,U.S. law allows companies to be sued for unknowing infringements.

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