New MPEG LA WebM/VP8 Patent Pool

One of the things that browser and device vendors stand behind when deciding to support MP4/h.264 over Google’s Webm video format and VP8 codec, is that while VP8 is open source, it may still be encumbered by patents. So far none of these submarine patents have surfaced, but now MPEG LA has put out a call, and hopes to form a patent pool that would create a license for VP8, and essentially put a price on it. In Google’s own license, it says:

“If you or your agent or exclusive licensee institute or order or agree to the institution of patent litigation against any entity (including a cross-claim or counterclaim in a lawsuit) alleging that this implementation of VP8 or any code incorporated within this implementation of VP8 constitutes direct or contributory patent infringement, or inducement of patent infringement, then any patent rights granted to you under this License for this implementation of VP8 shall terminate as of the date such litigation is filed.”

So if you claim VP8 infringes on a patent and sue, your license to use VP8 is terminated. Not sure exactly how that would affect a patent pool, but an interesting battle could be ahead.