Have the patents for MPEG-4 Visual expired yet?

From Meta, a Wikimedia project coordination wiki
Jump to navigation Jump to search

NOPE.

This is about MPEG-4 Part 2, for example XviD. H.264 or AVC is different thing.

US patents only, look them up on https://portal.uspto.gov/pair/PublicPair. There are also patents registered elsewhere which are not listed here. Some of the patents are likely not relevant. I suspect some are for some specific MPEG hardware, which by now is probably resting in some landfill.

https://www.uspto.gov/patent/laws-and-regulations/patent-term-calculator contains instructions for calculating when patents expire. I'm all outta Advil so I'm gonna pass this one up.

Some info is missing because I'm lazy. This is not legal advice. Here's my legal advice: call your lawyer.

Patent no. Filing or 371 ©Date Earliest Publication Date Issue Date of Patent Expires Patent holder Title of Invention Note
7,720,149 2005-09-19 2006-01-19 2010-05-18 2020-09-24? Mitsubishi Electric IMAGE DECODING APPARATUS, IMAGE CODING APPARATUS, IMAGE COMMUNICATIONS SYSTEM AND CODED BIT STREAM CONVERTING APPARATUS
8,045,624 2007-10-30 2008-03-06 2011-10-25 2020-06-15? Mitsubishi Electric VIDEO BIT STREAM CONVERTING APPARATUS
8,170,105 2006-03-23 2006-07-20 2012-05-01 2020-04-05? Mitsubishi Electric VIDEO ENCODER, VIDEO DECODER, VIDEO ENCODING METHOD, VIDEO DECODING METHOD, AND VIDEO ENCODING AND DECODING SYSTEM
7,068,721 2001-02-20 2002-10-17 2006-06-27 2022-03-22? Siemens AG METHOD AND CONFIGURATION FOR CODING A DIGITIZED PICTURE, AND METHOD AND CONFIGURATION FOR DECODING A DIGITIZED PICTURE
7,155,110 2002-07-25 2003-01-09 2006-12-26 2020-10-02? Sun Patent Trust IMAGE TRANSMISSION METHOD
7,995,654 2006-11-20 2007-03-22 2011-08-09 2020-12-15? Sun Patent Trust IMAGE PREDICTIVE CODING METHOD
7,027,517 2001-09-05 n/a 2006-04-11 2020-03-05 Toshiba Corporation METHOD AND APPARATUS FOR CODING MOVING PICTURE IMAGE

Decoding only[edit]

Patent no. Filing or 371 ©Date Earliest Publication Date Issue Date of Patent Expires Patent holder Title of Invention Note
6,959,046 2001-02-28 2002-01-24 2005-10-25 2022-12-08? Koninklijke Philips N.V. RESYNCHRONIZATION METHOD FOR DECODING VIDEO
8,005,143 2007-10-31 2008-03-06 2011-08-23 2020-06-07? Mitsubishi Electric IMAGING DECODING APPARATUS
8,036,277 2007-10-30 2008-03-13 2011-10-11 2020-07-02? Mitsubishi Electric IMAGE DECODING APPARATUS
8,036,278 2007-10-31 2008-03-13 2011-10-11 2020-07-01? Mitsubishi Electric IMAGE DECODING APPARATUS
8,036,279 2007-10-31 2008-03-13 2011-10-11 2020-07-03? Mitsubishi Electric IMAGE DECODING APPARATUS
8,040,955 2007-10-30 2008-03-06 2011-10-18 2020-06-28? Mitsubishi Electric IMAGE DECODING APPARATUS
8,045,617 2007-10-31 2008-05-01 2011-10-25 2020-08-16? Mitsubishi Electric IMAGE DECODING APPARATUS
8,054,889 2007-10-31 2008-03-06 2011-11-08 2020-06-23? Mitsubishi Electric IMAGE DECODING APPARATUS

In detail[edit]

The abstracts below are very difficult to read. A general note: it's always possible to patent some new method. You could invent a superior MPEG-4 Visual decoder today, patent it and enjoy your patent for 20 years. But that doesn't invalidate existing decoders.

It would be nice if Legal could look at this. Here is an amateur attempt:

  • #7,720,149: seemingly decoding-only.
  • #8,045,624: appears to be just a technique to provide compatiblity with certain decoders by including two headers in a specific order. Likely irrelevant for us, and probably for everyone. From Wikipedia: "MPEG-4 Part 2 is H.263 compatible in the sense that a basic H.263 bitstream is correctly decoded by an MPEG-4 Video decoder. (MPEG-4 Video decoder is natively capable of decoding a basic form of H.263.)" This is of no interest to us. We don't need two headers. H.263 is like, old shit. (older than MPEG-4 Visual) We're not going to support WAP on your Nokia!
  • #8,170,105: the "title of invention" is mishmash, but the abstract suggests this is actually another decoding-only patent. Irrelevant for the WMF, decoding is the user's problem. (and I'm rather certain a patent-free decoder is feasible if it doesn't exist already)
  • #7,068,721: appears to describe P-frames. Less clear how optional this one is compared to 7,995,654.
  • #7,155,110: my best guess is that this describes metadata to indicate if any given frame is suitable for use as a thumbnail. Which would be irrelevant for us.
  • #7,995,654: I **think** this is essentially describing a method (a method, not the only method) for P-frames. This would be a method that an encoder could use. It probably doesn't describe anything regarding the MPEG-4 Visual format, it just describes a method to create/optimize an encoder. Key word here is that it describes "optimum prediction", and why care about optimum? We'll settle for mediocre! If correct, this patent is mostly irrelevant. Worst case the WMF would have to license it for their servers or replace the described method in ffmpeg with something else, assuming ffmpeg even uses it, which may not be the case! As it doesn't appear to be an absolute requirement for encoding/decoding MPEG-4 Visual, it doesn't make the format itself any less open. (again: not legal advice)
  • #7,027,517: expires in 2 months, #care

7,155,110[edit]

This abstract is provided for your convenience (USPTO didn't have to incorporate a captcha..). I don't know if it was written by a US government employee. Consider it fair use.

In an image transmission method of the first embodiment, as shown in FIG. 1, when compressed image data Dv obtained by compressively coding digital image data corresponding to a moving picture is transmitted, an identification flag Hfd indicating whether or not the compressed image data is suitable for use in random and independent reproduction, is transmitted subsequently to a synchronous signal Hsd positioned at the beginning of a header Hv. At a reproducing end for reproducing the compressed image data transmitted according to the image transmission method, when analyzing the header Hv added to the compressed image data Dv corresponding to one moving picture, it is decided whether or not the compressed image data Dv is suitable for use in the random reproduction in a short time, by analysis of the identification flag Hfd.

7,995,654[edit]

This abstract is provided for your convenience (USPTO didn't have to incorporate a captcha..). I don't know if it was written by a US government employee. Consider it fair use.

When dividing inputted image data to be coded into image data of a plurality of small regions which are adjacent to each other and coding the image data of an objective small region to be processed among the image data of the plurality of divided small regions which are adjacent to each other, reconstructed image data of a reproduction small region adjacent to the image data of the objective small region to be processed is used as image data of an intra-frame prediction small region of the objective small region to be processed, the image data of the intra-frame prediction small region is used as image data of an optimum prediction small region and image data of a difference small region which are differences between the image data of the objective small region to be processed and the image data of the optimum prediction small region is generated. Then, the generated image data of the difference small region is coded and outputted, and then the coded image data of the difference small region is decoded, so that the reconstructed image data of the reproduction small region is generated by adding the decoded image data of the difference small region to the image data of the optimum prediction small region.

7,027,517[edit]

This abstract is provided for your convenience (USPTO didn't have to incorporate a captcha..). I don't know if it was written by a US government employee. Consider it fair use.

A video coding apparatus includes a coder section 101 for coding an input video picture, an important information constructing section 102 for extracting important information from coded information obtained by the coder section, a sync signal generator section 103 for generating a sync signal, and a bit stream reconstructing section 104 for adding the sync signal output from the sync signal generator section and the important information reconstructed by the important information constructing section to the bit stream coded by the coder section, thereby reconstructing the bit stream.

8,045,624[edit]

This abstract is provided for your convenience (USPTO didn't have to incorporate a captcha..). I don't know if it was written by a US government employee. Consider it fair use.

A bit stream generating apparatus comprising header information multiplexer for multiplexing a first coded bit stream, encoded in the H.263 coding scheme, including the first header information of the H.263 coding scheme with the second header information of MPEG-4 coding scheme before the first header information for ensuring compatibility with the MPEG-4 coded bit stream encoded in the MPEG-4 coding scheme, wherein the header information multiplexing means multiplexes the image coded data with video object start code and video object identification number of MPEG-4 coding scheme as the second header information for ensuring compatibility with the MPEG-4 coded bit stream.

8,170,105[edit]

This abstract is provided for your convenience (USPTO didn't have to incorporate a captcha..). I don't know if it was written by a US government employee. Consider it fair use.

A method and a video decoder for decoding an encoded bitstream of video data in a picture encoding and decoding system are disclosed. The video decoder includes a motion compensation unit for calculating a position for a sample image portion using an encoded bitstream of video data having a motion vector and rounding information. The calculated position of a sample image is rounded with the rounding information. The rounding information indicates the accuracy for rounding, and it is decoded from the bitstream. An image reconstruction unit reconstructs a decoded image portion of the video data from the sample image portion.

RE40,177[edit]

This abstract is provided for your convenience (USPTO didn't have to incorporate a captcha..). I don't know if it was written by a US government employee. Consider it fair use.

A method and apparatus to remove a block effect and a ring effect appearing in a compression-coded image is disclosed. The present invention is especially applicable to an image compression-coded at a low bit rate. In particular, the present invention includes a variety of masks for the removal of the block/ring effect. Thus, one mask is select for a pixel to be filtered. Moreover, candidate pixels to be averaged with the pixel to be filtered is selected from the pixels of the selected mask to better maintain the details of the image, and a weight is applied to improve the calculation speed of the averaging operation. More particularly, the masks according to the present invention have longer tabs toward adjacent blocks at boundaries of the given block to remove the block and ring effect.

7,155,110[edit]

This abstract is provided for your convenience (USPTO didn't have to incorporate a captcha..). I don't know if it was written by a US government employee. Consider it fair use.

In an image transmission method of the first embodiment, as shown in FIG. 1, when compressed image data Dv obtained by compressively coding digital image data corresponding to a moving picture is transmitted, an identification flag Hfd indicating whether or not the compressed image data is suitable for use in random and independent reproduction, is transmitted subsequently to a synchronous signal Hsd positioned at the beginning of a header Hv. At a reproducing end for reproducing the compressed image data transmitted according to the image transmission method, when analyzing the header Hv added to the compressed image data Dv corresponding to one moving picture, it is decided whether or not the compressed image data Dv is suitable for use in the random reproduction in a short time, by analysis of the identification flag Hfd.

7,394,941[edit]

This abstract is provided for your convenience (USPTO didn't have to incorporate a captcha..). I don't know if it was written by a US government employee. Consider it fair use.

There is disclosed image predictive coding apparatus and method, image predictive decoding apparatus and method, and recording medium which stores therein the image predictive coding method or the image predictive decoding method, of which the transform efficiency is remarkably improved in comparison with the prior art. According to the image predictive coding apparatus and method, when dividing inputted image data to be coded into image data of a plurality of small regions which are adjacent to each other and coding the image data of an objective small region to be processed among the image data of the plurality of divided small regions which are adjacent to each other, reconstructed image data of a reproduction small region adjacent to the image data of the objective small region to be processed is used as image data of an intra-frame prediction small region of the objective small region to be processed, the image data of the intra-frame prediction small region is used as image data of an optimum prediction small region and image data of a difference small region which are differences between the image data of the objective small region to be processed and the image data of the optimum prediction small region is generated. Then, the generated image data of the difference small region is coded and outputted, and then the coded image data of the difference small region is decoded, so that the reconstructed image data of the reproduction small region is generated by adding the decoded image data of the difference small region to the image data of the optimum prediction small region.

7,995,654[edit]

This abstract is provided for your convenience (USPTO didn't have to incorporate a captcha..). I don't know if it was written by a US government employee. Consider it fair use.

When dividing inputted image data to be coded into image data of a plurality of small regions which are adjacent to each other and coding the image data of an objective small region to be processed among the image data of the plurality of divided small regions which are adjacent to each other, reconstructed image data of a reproduction small region adjacent to the image data of the objective small region to be processed is used as image data of an intra-frame prediction small region of the objective small region to be processed, the image data of the intra-frame prediction small region is used as image data of an optimum prediction small region and image data of a difference small region which are differences between the image data of the objective small region to be processed and the image data of the optimum prediction small region is generated. Then, the generated image data of the difference small region is coded and outputted, and then the coded image data of the difference small region is decoded, so that the reconstructed image data of the reproduction small region is generated by adding the decoded image data of the difference small region to the image data of the optimum prediction small region.

7,027,517[edit]

This abstract is provided for your convenience (USPTO didn't have to incorporate a captcha..). I don't know if it was written by a US government employee. Consider it fair use.

A video coding apparatus includes a coder section 101 for coding an input video picture, an important information constructing section 102 for extracting important information from coded information obtained by the coder section, a sync signal generator section 103 for generating a sync signal, and a bit stream reconstructing section 104 for adding the sync signal output from the sync signal generator section and the important information reconstructed by the important information constructing section to the bit stream coded by the coder section, thereby reconstructing the bit stream.

8,045,624[edit]

This abstract is provided for your convenience (USPTO didn't have to incorporate a captcha..). I don't know if it was written by a US government employee. Consider it fair use.

A bit stream generating apparatus comprising header information multiplexer for multiplexing a first coded bit stream, encoded in the H.263 coding scheme, including the first header information of the H.263 coding scheme with the second header information of MPEG-4 coding scheme before the first header information for ensuring compatibility with the MPEG-4 coded bit stream encoded in the MPEG-4 coding scheme, wherein the header information multiplexing means multiplexes the image coded data with video object start code and video object identification number of MPEG-4 coding scheme as the second header information for ensuring compatibility with the MPEG-4 coded bit stream.

8,170,105[edit]

This abstract is provided for your convenience (USPTO didn't have to incorporate a captcha..). I don't know if it was written by a US government employee. Consider it fair use.

A method and a video decoder for decoding an encoded bitstream of video data in a picture encoding and decoding system are disclosed. The video decoder includes a motion compensation unit for calculating a position for a sample image portion using an encoded bitstream of video data having a motion vector and rounding information. The calculated position of a sample image is rounded with the rounding information. The rounding information indicates the accuracy for rounding, and it is decoded from the bitstream. An image reconstruction unit reconstructs a decoded image portion of the video data from the sample image portion.

7,068,721[edit]

This abstract is provided for your convenience (USPTO didn't have to incorporate a captcha..). I don't know if it was written by a US government employee. Consider it fair use.

Pixels in a digitized picture are grouped into picture blocks, which in turn are grouped at least in a first picture region and a second picture region. An overall motion vector is determined, through the use of which any shifting of the first picture region in comparison to the first picture region in a previous picture is described. The overall motion vector is allocated to all the picture blocks in the second picture region. A motion vector is determined for each of the picture blocks in the first picture region. The coding information of the picture blocks, the motion vectors and the overall motion vector are coded. A configuration for coding a digitized picture and a configuration for decoding a compressed picture are also provided.

7,720,149[edit]

This abstract is provided for your convenience (USPTO didn't have to incorporate a captcha..). I don't know if it was written by a US government employee. Consider it fair use.

An image decoding apparatus is capable of decoding coded bit streams with different coding schemes. The image decoding apparatus includes a coding scheme decision section for deciding a coding scheme from coding scheme identification information multiplexed into a coded bit stream, a setting unit for setting header information on a second coding scheme in accordance with header information in a first coding scheme, and a decoder for decoding image coded data in the first coding scheme in response to the header information on the second coding scheme, which is set.