The US Patent and Trademark Office is to re-examine the validity of the Jpeg image patent held by Forgent Networks, after lobbying by the Public Patent Foundation
The patent office won’t necessarily erase the Jpeg patent as a result of the re-examination, but there is a good chance that it may be modified in some way.
Forgent acquired the Jpeg patent after it bought Compression Labs in 1997. The compression technique used in Jpeg wasn’t previously covered by a patent but Forgent successfully filed one after the acquisition.
Rather than fight an expensive court battle, digital camera makers and other other device makers have opted to pay Forgent royalties.
Forgent has already collected over $100m (£59m) in royalties from its patent, but it is now suing PC manufacturers over their refusal to pay anything for supporting Jpeg images on their machines.
If the patent is declared invalid, the PC Jpeg case, which could reap hundreds of millions of dollars for Forgent, would be thrown out, as would the ability for the company to collect any future royalties.
Forgent said it would fight any attempt to axe its Jpeg patent.