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Tandberg rips off an open source project

Registered a commit log patent application
Fri Nov 26 2010, 16:13

PATENT TROLL Tandberg has ripped off an algorithm developed by the open source X264 project for encoding video streams by registering a patent application for the same code.

Companies that exist for the sole purpose of firing off lawsuits for patent infringement are bad enough, but it looks like Tandberg has gone a step further by pilfering patent claims from an open source project commit log.

Tandberg registered its algorithm patent just two months after the X264 developers published their open source commit log online.

A developer on the open source X264 project, Jason Garrett-Glaser, had the issue brought to his attention and was rightly ticked off. Not only had Tandberg pilfered the project's idea, it was an exact copy of the process design.

"So why the deja vu? Because this patent application was an exact, step-by-step description of the algorithm I came up with for decimate_score (and later coeff_level_run) in x264 in 2008," wrote Garrett-Glaser.

The only difference between the Tandberg patent and the X264 commit log is the use of the X264 project's Phenom's SSE4a algorithm. However, Garrett-Glaser said, "It was added the day after they filed the patent application, so they didn't get a chance to copy it."

Tandberg hardly employed any subtlety. The company has one of its employers following the x264 project's IRC development channel and the guy who registered the patent is known to the X264 project.

We don't know if the X264 project will try to run this one through the courts or WIPO. But the project team can be encouraged by the fact that another open source project won a General Public License (GPL) violation lawsuit in August, with not insignificant damages and attorneys fees awarded by a US federal court. µ


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