Have the patents for MPEG-4 Visual expired yet?

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YES! 😍

All worldwide patents have expired except for 2 patents still active in Brazil. For historical reference:

  • last patent in Europe, EP 1279291, expired on 2021-04-09;
  • last meaningful patent in the US, US 6959046, expired on 2022-12-07. The last patent in the US, likely non essential, US 7395211, expired on 2023-11-14.

The patent list managed by Via Licensing Alliance is available at: https://www.via-la.com/licensing-2/mpeg-4-visual/mpeg-4-visual-patent-list/

This is about MPEG-4 Part 2 (for example Xvid). For H.264 or AVC see Have the patents for H.264 MPEG-4 AVC expired yet?

Brazilian patents[edit]

MPEG-4 Visual has these 2 patents still active in Brazil. Expiration dates were estimated considering 10 years from the date of grant (for Brazilian patents filed until 2021-04-07).

  • 2026-07-19: BR PI0109962-0 (Siemens AG)
  • 2026-01-26: BR PI0113271-7 (Dolby Laboratories Licensing Corporation) - this patent that was added to the pool in April 2021 is (not legal advice) likely non essential. It describes some methods to hide data in an audio or video stream with lossy compression. It can be used with MPEG-1, MPEG-2 and MPEG-4 for video and various audio codecs including MP3 and AAC. This is about watermarking. The watermarking process involves messing with the encoder, slightly distorting output.