Looking to Protect H.264, Nokia Blocks Google’s Video Encoding Dreams

Nokia and Google are facing an impasse when it comes to a video encoding technology that Google says that it owns and which Nokia says that it has patents for.  At issue is how to best enable code-once, run-anywhere video content online.

According to the BBC, Google is angling for its VP8 video encoding suite to become part of the WebM project, which is dedicated to developing a high-quality, open video format for the Web that's freely available to everyone. That format would allow video content to seamlessly be ported across mobile devices as well as standard browsers and connected device interfaces. Eventually, WebM would like to gain full integration with HTML5, which is a key enabler of a multiscreen Internet.

All of that touchy-feely open-standards talk came to a screeching halt when Nokia sent a submission to the Internet Engineering Task Force saying that VP8 depends on numerous Nokia patents—and that the Finnish giant was not prepared to license any of them (64 patents and 22 pending patent applications) in order to let Google go ahead with its plan.

There’s a reason for the intransigence. Nokia is saying that Google is trying to muscle out other, more open, existing standards, notably the H.264 compression technology. Elevating VP8 to the level of a standard would merely allow Google to take over what is already an open ecosystem with proprietary technology, Nokia said.

"Nokia believes that open and collaborative efforts for standardization are in the best interests of consumers, innovators and the industry as a whole,� it told the Foss Patents blog. “We are now witnessing one company attempting to force the adoption of its proprietary technology, which offers no advantages over existing, widely deployed standards…and infringes Nokia's intellectual property.�

Edited by Amanda Ciccatelli