Web Video Wars: Google, Others Launch a Legal Shelter for WebM

In a bid to strengthen the position of the WebM format in what can only be described as the "web video wars," Google (Nasdaq: GOOG  ) and other WebM proponents formed a Community Cross-License (CCL) initiative. The aim of the CCL is to form a pool of patents which can be used as legal defense in the case any proponent of the WebM format is sued by an outside company. They have even established a separate website for the endeavor. This is remarkably similar to what the MPEG Licensing Administration (LA) has been doing for years now. The main difference is that WebM is offered at royalty-free terms, while the MPEG LA charges licensing fees depending on usage. Upon joining the CCL, members grant patents relevant to WebM to other members of the initiative.

The founding members of LLC are AMD, Cisco Systems, Google, HiSilicon Technologies (for itself and its parent, Huawei), LG Electronics, Logitech, Matroska, MIPS Technologies, Mozilla Corporation, Opera Software, Pantech, Quanta Computer, Samsung Electronics, STMicroelectronics (for itself and its 50/50 joint venture, ST-Ericsson), Texas Instruments, Verisilicon Holdings, and the Xiph.org Foundation. For comparison, MPEG LA lists its licensors for specific patent pool on its site. Industry heavyweights like Apple and Microsoft are present in their H.264 licensing pool, for example. Interestingly, LG and Samsung are listed for both, which could mean that these consumer electronics giants want to take a different path for future products.

This continues to show Google's strong stance on the matter which was started by removal of H.264 support in their Chrome web browser. YouTube recently announced to speed up the conversion of content to the WebM format. Back in February, the MPEG LA issued a call for patents among its members "in order to participate in the creation of, and determine licensing terms for, a joint VP8 patent license." Interestingly, shortly afterward, the U.S. Department of Justice started an investigation against the MPEG LA for anticompetitive measures against WebM.

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