Here, We Can Screw Up The DMB Standard, Too

MPEG LA is a company that packages patents necessary for a particular technology and then licenses them out together in a single package, simplifying the licensing process. It’s also the company behind the long-running, ongoing fight over royalty rates for the Open Mobile Alliance’s DRM spec — the single, unified copy-protection scheme for mobile phones that was supposed to prevent the splintering and incompatibility that reigns supreme in the standard music download market. But MPEG LA hasn’t been able to come up with a price that satisfies mobile operators and handset vendors, forestalling the standard’s implementation — and the royalties paid to the IP holders. While we’re not particularly unhappy that yet another copy-protection standard has been held up, the fiasco can’t be a shining mark on MPEG LA’s resume. Now, though, it’s trying to get together a patent portfolio on DMB broadcasting, a digital broadcasting technology with satellite and terrestrial versions that’s used in South Korea to send TV to mobile phones, to supposedly make things easier for everybody. Its initial efforts focus on Korea, but operators and vendors there don’t seem to be having any trouble coming out with DMB products and services there. After MPEG LA’s managed to derail the OMA DRM spec, and keep royalties out of patent holders’ pockets, it looks like it wants to do the same with DMB, and is already developing a portfolio for the rival DVB-H standard as well.

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