Settlement neutralises JPEG patent threat

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Forgent drops patent claim as part of US$8 million settlement.

Patent holding company Forgent has settled a series of lawsuits over its so-called JPEG patent. 

Under the terms of the settlement the company will receive $8 million, a mere fraction of its original demands from a group of over 40 technology vendors including Apple, Dell, Google, HP and Microsoft. 

The '672' patent covers the way in which the JPEG file format compresses digital images. JPEG is best known for its use in .jpg files and is deployed in applications ranging from web browsers to digital cameras.

Forgent said that it was unable to disclose the terms of the legal settlement.

The company acquired the patents in 1997 from the original inventor, and started seeking licence fees from software developers and makers of portable devices.

Forgent has collected more than $110m from over 50 companies including Sony and Research In Motion. The company had argued that the patent was worth up to US$1 billion. 

The settlement does not affect the licence agreements that the company already had in place.

Following a request by the Public Patent Foundation, the US Patent and Trademark Office announced in February that it would re-evaluate the patent. This procedure could have resulted in the patent being invalidated. 

With the litigation over the 672 patent wrapped up, Forgent said that it will shift its focus to enforcing its 746 patent that covers technology inside digital video recorders.

The company filed lawsuits last summer against 15 television and media companies for alleged patent infringement. The case is scheduled to come before a jury in May next year.
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