Nov 18, 2005

Foundation Targets JPEG Patent for Elimination

Source: eWeek
Written By Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols

On Wednesday, the Public Patent Foundation filed a formal request with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to revoke a data compression patent that Forgent Networks Inc. is asserting against the JPEG image standard. In recent years, JPEG has become the default file format for photo-quality images. It is commonly used in publishing, graphics and digital photography.

Several years ago, Forgent acquired a data compression patent, U.S. Patent No. 4,698,672, with its purchase of CLI (Compression Labs Inc.) In the past eighteen months, Forgent began aggressively suing companies that sell or offer services using JPEG on the grounds that the businesses are infringing its patent.

Among other companies, Forgent has sued Apple Computer Inc., Adobe Systems Inc. and Microsoft Corp.

Some of these companies, such as Sun Microsystems Inc. and Google Inc., have counter-sued Forgent on the theory that CLI defrauded the PTO (Patent and Trademark Office). These companies claim that CLI had lied to the PRO about their being prior art and patents to its own.

Other companies, such as BlackBerry maker Research in Motion Ltd., have settled with Forgent. At this time, most of Forgent suits are continuing to be fought out in the courts.

Now, PUBPAT (Public Patent Foundation) has joined the fight. PUBPAT has submitted previously unseen prior art showing, it claims, that the patent, which was issued in 1987, was not new and should be revoked.

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