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From research done by a veteran specialist in the signal processing field it appears that the 900 patents held by MPEG-LA are each rather weak on their own, but together form an impenetrable thicket that makes programming in this area a hazardous exercise and license-payments to the pool unavoidable. Among the patent holders in the MPEG-LA pool are many of the large companies who are currently found lobbying for the Software Patent Directive.

Projects such as !MPlayer and VideoLAN are currently leading a web demo, warning their users that the software patent directive as promoted by the Commission and Council would most likely mean the end of these projects.

The !MPlayer project writes on a protest web page:

Below are summarising comments on the study draft.

Summary of That Draft Study

All patents in the list of the MPEG licence association in regard to the MPEG-4 standard were examined and analysed. After intensive study of relevant literature and more than 100 patents of the relevant companies we can say now: Upon careful examination, we can not find any advances over the prior art in said list that could justify the granting of a patent. Most of these patents should be attackable in court, but who would take the burden of litigation against 900 patents owned by dozens of large companies ?

See the complete report at

Apple Computer, Inc.

Electronics and Telecommunications Research Institute

France Télécom, S.A.

Koninklijke Philips Electronics N.V.

Mitsubishi Electric Corporation

Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd.

Sharp Kabushiki Kaisha

Sun Microsystems, Inc.

SUMMARY of the MPEG-LA-Analysis:

After studying relevant literature and more than 100 patents intensively (including all EP- and WIPO-patent applications), one definitely can say:

The patent claims do not fulfil any prerequisites of article No. 52 of the European Patent Convention : they unexceptionally describe programs for computers (rules and algorithms for operating known data processing equipment). Computer-implemented concepts; nothing more.

But even if for a moment we accept the EPO's strange interpretations of Article 52, we find that, compared with the prior art, there is no invention in said MPEG-4 list with an "inventive step" that could be sufficient to justify the granting of even one of these patents.

Most of all "inventive steps" in said patent claims are well-known time-domain, but packed into nebulous or indefinable semantics, such as:

Some "inventions" are re-patenting matter. Technologies, that have been described already 20 years ago; simply implemented and/or added into new patent-claims to pretend novelty:

Other cases are odd and peculiar:

Related to such technologies - known since decades - and to nebulously and undefinably formulated semantic monsters, dozens of additional patent claims got based upon. PYRAMIDS of new patents and patent-families became founded thereupon:

http://www.sensortime.com/MPEG-LA-patentpyramid.gif

Finally, let us analyse patent applications published before 1997 regarding those types of "prior art": Inputing the term "*multiplex*", a professional patent search database shows 52 690 (!) matches until May 1, 1997.

http://www.sensortime.com/multiplex.gif

On inputing "*data block addressing*": 944 matches; on "*frame addressing*": 130 matches ! On inputing the word "*time stamp*" 2 962 matches, on "*time address*" 813 matches; on "*elapse time*" 14 373 matches!

When inputing the term "*data packetising*" you get 6,354 matches.

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