Out-Law / Your Daily Need-To-Know

Microsoft faces JPEG patent lawsuit

Out-Law News | 26 Apr 2005 | 12:55 pm | 1 min. read

Scheduling software company Forgent Networks has sued Microsoft in a Texas district court, alleging infringement of a patent that it says covers the compression, manipulation and transmission of JPEG images.
JPEG is short for the "Joint Photographic Experts Group," which comprises experts nominated by national standards bodies and major companies to work to produce standards for continuous tone image coding.The best-known standard from JPEG is IS 10918-1, which is the first of a multi-part set of standards for still image compression. A basic version of the many features of this standard is what most people think of as JPEG – and this is where Forgent is claiming a monopoly right.The patent is owned by Compression Labs, which applied for it in 1986, but never pursued royalties. Forgent subsequently acquired Compression Labs and startled the computer industry in 2002 when it announced that it would be seeking royalties relating to digital image compression.The suit, filed in the US District Court of the Eastern District of Texas, follows a pre-emptive strike by Microsoft, which filed suit on 15th April in a California Court, asking the court to declare that it did not infringe on Forgent's patent, and that the patent itself was invalid and unenforceable."It's unfortunate that, despite Microsoft's recent inquiries about licensing the patent, they chose to file a lawsuit, leaving us no alternative but to assert infringement claims against it," said Richard Snyder, chairman and CEO of Forgent.Forgent has been down this road before, suing 44 other companies for infringement of the JPEG patent. An action last year targeted 31 companies including Apple, IBM, Adobe, Gateway and Xerox.To date, says Forgent, it has generated more than $100 million from licensing the patent.Microsoft has not yet commented on the suit.
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