Justice Department Investigating MPEG-LA For Antitrust Violations Over VP8 Patent Threats

from the monopolies dept

This is quite a surprise. We’d already covered how MPEG-LA, the private company that has set up patent pools around web video, had announced its intention to set up a patent pool focused on the patents that holders believe are infringed upon by Google’s VP8/WebM video standard. This definitely seemed like a typical shakedown situation, with one company basically asking a bunch of others to team up to demand a bunch of cash from Google.

What’s surprising, however, is that the US Justice Department is apparently jumping into this particular battle, and investigating if MPEG-LA’s response violates antitrust law. Apparently, the Justice Department (which is not exactly known as being a Google supporter…) is questioning whether or not this move by MPEG-LA and its members represents an attempt to stifle competition in the marketplace. Of course, the answer seems to be yes, but part of that is the very nature of patents. They are, by definition, a monopoly right. So if they want to stop monopoly abuse from stifling competition, perhaps the government should stop handing out so many monopolies.

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Companies: google, mpeg-la

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Comments on “Justice Department Investigating MPEG-LA For Antitrust Violations Over VP8 Patent Threats”

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24 Comments
Chris Rhodes (profile) says:

The Most Amusing Part

The most amusing part to me, is that patents and copyright are government-granted monopolies, but when companies exploit those monopolies to their fullest extent, they are accused of anti-competitive behavior by the very government who set the system up in the first place.

Make up your mind, big-government: Do you want to create monopolies or break them up?

Chris Rhodes (profile) says:

Re: Re: The Most Amusing Part

Another one of my favorites: The people charged with cracking down on the free distribution of music and movies online (with the argument that file-sharing disincentivizes the creation of more) are the same people charged with cracking down on child pornography online (with the argument that file-sharing incentivizes the creation of more).

Richard (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: The Most Amusing Part

You “stole” that idea from me. (I’ve made the same point a couple of time before in the comments here).

It’s great to see someone else who thinks the same way!

Our Lords and masters totally lack consistency of thought.

Another similar point.

In Iraq the lack of civil rights was worth a military intervention that cost many lives.

In the West the mere threat of terrorists killing a single individual means that we have to give up our civil rights…

Does not compute!

coldbrew says:

You have it wrong

Competition obviously means only having h.264 for the video tag. One option in the marketplace is all you need to satisfy the free market. Just vote red or blue, and those are the only options you need. You communists need to be quiet because you are oppressing people with all your choices.

Douche or turd, otherwise you are a terrorist.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Google and CIA:
http://www.topix.com/forum/world/china/TV2INCQB9NLA1T61G

Google and Egypt
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-12400128

Google and NSA
http://www.networkworld.com/community/blog/watchdog-group-questions-googles-relationship

BUT a SMALL FEW…

Naked shorting drove ON2 stock down and Google stole them:
http://seekingalpha.com/article/154987-google-on2-deal-insights
Class action lawsuits are still pending.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

First source is Alex Jones’ absurd conspiracy blog and one ex-FBI agent.

Second source, Egypt has nothing to do with your silly claims.

Third source shows nothing more than…Google getting government contracts (plenty of companies do) and CW whining about Google accidentally collecting data that people were broadcasting to anyone who wanted to collect it.

Fourth source…Google bought a company. Exciting.

Richard (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Naked shorting drove ON2 stock down and Google stole them:

Nice conspiracy theory – but it doesn’t work!

No way could Google avoid paying full value for ON2 by short selling – because that process itself would have cost them more. It looks to me (from the link that you posted) like ON2 had a stock bubble and a lot of foolish investors overpaid for the shares and are now whinging about it.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Oh yes. Be afraid. Be very afraid:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NSAKEY

http://www.h-online.com/open/news/item/NSA-helps-Apple-Sun-and-Red-Hat-harden-their-systems-863889.html

(I dunno what any of his means. I just started writing “* nsa” on google, and this stuff came out…by the looks of it, NSA own pretty much every computer on Earth. Good thing I’m writing this of a hacked calculator, deep in my secret underground bunker just outside Madrid)

Ronald J Riley (profile) says:

Equal Treatment

Companies for patent pools to get IP rights on the cheap so it seems that it should be perfectly acceptable to form patent pools to enhance profits by lowering transactional costs of licensing. If Justice is going to prohibit inventors from pooling patents they should also stop industry groups from doing the same.

Ronald J. Riley,

President – http://www.PIAUSA.org – RJR at PIAUSA.org

Other Affiliations:
Executive Director – http://www.InventorEd.org – RJR at InvEd.org
Senior Fellow – http://www.PatentPolicy.org
President – Alliance for American Innovation
Caretaker of Intellectual Property Creators on behalf of deceased founder Paul Heckel
Washington, DC
Direct (202) 318-1595 – 9 am to 9 pm EST.

staff says:

hook or crook

“monopolies”

From the days of the founding of the US patents were granted to inventors giving them exclusive rights to their inventions for a limited time. Those “monopolies” as you say have an end. Those seized by large multinational corporations by hook or crook have no term and no boundaries. Their predatory practices shape the worst type of monopolies even corrupting governments through campaign contributions and other forms of graft. Some, even corrupt the press or those who pretend to be.

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