It seems that Google (News - Alert) and MPEG LA have come to an agreement in their video codec dispute, which involves Google's VP8 video compression format and MPEG LA's popular H.264 codec. This goes back to 2011, when MPEG LA began looking into potentially suing Google for patent infringement, as VP8 apparently relies on technologies that fall under the H.264 patent portfolio.
Fortunately for Google, which acquired VP8 in its acquisition of On2 Technologies (News - Alert) back in 2010, MPEG LA has agreed to grant Google a license to techniques essential to the VP8 format, as well as "earlier-generation VPx video compression technologies." The agreement also covers the next generation of the VPx codec and allows Google to sub-license the covered techniques to any VP8 user. Furthermore, MPEG LA plans to discontinue its efforts to form a VP8 patent pool.
"This is a significant milestone in Google's efforts to establish VP8 as a widely-deployed Web video format," said Allen Lo, Google's deputy general counsel for patents, in a statement. "We appreciate MPEG LA's cooperation in making this happen."
Indeed, this is a major step forward for the VP8 format, as the legal uncertainty surrounding it up until now has hindered its adoption. For example, Microsoft (News - Alert) ultimately decided to avoid the WebM media file format because it was built around VP8. Meanwhile, WebRTC, which enables real-time browser-based communications without the need for plugins and is gaining support from most Web browsers, is built around the VP8 codec. As such, now that VP8 is cleared of its legal uncertainty, it's likely that Microsoft will adopt WebRTC for Internet Explorer rather than its own version of the standard.
Still, though, there is little to no support for hardware-based VP8 encoders and decoders, while H.264 can be used on practically any video-enabled device without stressing its CPU. Perhaps, however, Google can further adoption of its technology with its successor, VP9.
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