MPEG LA, LLC is a firm based in Denver, Colorado that licenses patent pools covering essential patents required[1][2] for use of the MPEG-2,[3] MPEG-4 Visual (Part 2), IEEE 1394, VC-1, ATSC, MVC, MPEG-2 Systems and AVC/H.264 standards. MPEG LA also offers a license for Wireless Mesh technology. The firm is working towards pooled licensing of the High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC) standard.

MPEG LA is not affiliated with MPEG, the Moving Picture Experts Group.


MPEG LA started operations in July 1997 immediately after receiving a Department of Justice Business Review Letter.[4] During formation of the MPEG-2 standard, a working group of companies that participated in the formation of the MPEG-2 standard recognized that the biggest challenge to adoption was efficient access to essential patents owned by many patent owners. That ultimately led to a group of eight MPEG-2 patent owners -- Fujitsu, Panasonic, Sony, Mitsubishi, Scientific Atlanta, Columbia University, Philips and General Instrument -- along with CableLabs and certain individuals, to form MPEG LA, which in turn created the first modern-day patent pool as a solution.

In June 2012, MPEG LA announced a call for patents essential to the High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC) standard.[5]

In September 2012, MPEG LA launched Librassay®, which makes diagnostic patent rights from some of the world's leading research institutions available to everyone through a single license. Organizations which have included patents in Librassay® include Johns Hopkins University; Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research; Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center; National Institutes of Health (NIH); Partners HealthCare; The Board of Trustees of the Leland Stanford Junior University; The Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania; The University of California, San Francisco; and Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF).[6][7]


MPEG LA has claimed that video codecs such as Theora[8][9][10] and VP8[11][12][13] infringe on patents owned by its licensors, without disclosing the affected patent or patents.[14] They then called out for “any party that believes it has patents that are essential to the VP8 video codec”.[15] In April 2013, Google and MPEG LA announced an agreement covering the VP8 video format.[16] In May 2010, Nero AG filed an antitrust suit against MPEG LA, claiming it "unlawfully extended its patent pools by adding non-essential patents to the MPEG-2 patent pool" and has been inconsistent in charging royalty fees.[17] The United States District Court for the Central District of California dismissed the suit with prejudice on November 29, 2010.[18]

David Balto, who is a former policy director at the Federal Trade Commission, has used the MPEG-2 patent pool as an example of why patent pools need more scrutiny so that they do not suppress innovation.[19][20]

The MPEG-2 patent pool began with 100 patents in 1997 and since then additional patents have been added.[21][22] As of 2013 the number of active/expired patents in the MPEG-2 patent pool is over 1,000.[21][23] The MPEG-2 license agreement states that if possible the license fee will not increase when new patents are added.[24] The MPEG-2 license agreement states that MPEG-2 royalties must be paid when there is one or more active patents in either the country of manufacture or the country of sale.[25] The original MPEG-2 license rate was $4 for a decoding license and $4 for an encoding license.[26]

A criticism of the MPEG-2 patent pool is that even though the number of patents will decrease from 1,048 to 416 by June 2013 the license fee has not decreased with the expiration rate of MPEG-2 patents.[27][28][29][30] Since January 1, 2010, the MPEG-2 patent pool has remained at $2 for a decoding license and $2 for an encoding license.[28][29][31] By 2015 more than 90% of the MPEG-2 patents will have expired but as long as there are one or more active patents in the MPEG-2 patent pool in either the country of manufacture or the country of sale the MPEG-2 license agreement requires that licensees pay a license fee that does not change based on the number of patents that have expired.[27][28][29][30][31]

H.264/MPEG-4 AVC Licensors

The following organizations hold one or more patents in the H.264/AVC patent pool.[32]

VC-1 Licensors

The following organizations hold one or more patents in the VC-1 patent pool.[33]

See also


External links

  • MPEG LA corporate website
  • New MPEG LA MPEG-2 License Agreement Offers Extended Coverage at Reduced Royalty Rates (Press Release on
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