Our latest technology patent landscape report – ITU AVC H.264 and HEVC H.265 audio video standards

By Steve Carden, Sireesha Ancha

Understanding the patent landscape is a complex challenge for those involved in patent licensing and royalty negotiation. Many companies own patents that they claim are ‘potentially essential’ to the standards. Standards Essential Patents (SEPs) are embedded within the standard itself and are infringed by all equipment complying with the standard – they can’t be avoided by clever engineering.

With a potential escalation of litigation waiting to happen in the consumer electronics market, SEP ownership and monetization in Audio/Video (AV) standards is becoming increasingly critical. While the ownership of SEPs has been studied at length in the telecommunication industry, the landscape of SEPs in the Audio/Video standards has not been researched to the same extent.

In the absence of transparent patent ownership licensees, policy makers and regulators struggle to set the correct prices for patent acquisitions, patent transfers, licenses and damage awards. Our analysis brings clarity to the size of the patent landscape for AVC/HEVC standards.

Following on from our independent analyses of the LTE (3GPP-LTE) and 802.11 essential patent landscapes, our independent analysis of the patent landscape for ITU AVC/HEVC standards is now available.

Given the similarity in the standards and technologies there is a great interest in the market on the overlapping patent landscape in AVC/HEVC. We developed a combined report on the SEP portfolio for the AVC and HEVC standards.

The first release (Q1 2017) of our AVC/HEVC analysis includes US granted patents from a search based on:

  • the submitted Letters of Assurance (LoA) to the ITU against AVC/HEVC standards.
  • the published patents by the leading AVC/HEVC patent pools (MPEG-LA and HEVC-Advanced).
  • technical Specifications of AVC/HEVC.

‪Our ‘court-proven’ methodology consists of four stages:‬‬‬‬‬‬

  • defining appropriate search criteria.
  • validating the search criteria.
  • searching: generation of a long-list of assets.
  • decimation, evaluation and documentation.

The full detail of our methodology is transparent to our customers.

Our essential IPR databases are based on detailed evaluation of the patents. The complete AVC/HEVC package includes access to the online database and an associated report.

For each patent that we have successfully evaluated, the database includes:

  • details of the patent family (application number, patent number, equivalents, filing date, grant date).
  • comments from our engineer who reviewed the patent: typically a few sentences providing the rationale behind the score given to the patent including the specification section where the patent is deemed to be potentially technically essential.
  • our conclusion: whether the patent is potentially technically essential to ITU AVC/HEVC, useful but not technically essential to ITU AVC/HEVC, or not relevant to ITU AVC/HEVC.

The report draws conclusions on the AVC and HEVC patent landscape that are relevant to the licensor, licensee communities and also for the policy makers and regulators. The report provides:

  • our estimate of the likely number of SEPs in these standards.
  • the overlap of patent portfolios in the AVC and HEVC standards.
  • historical SEP filings.
  • additional analysis of INPADOC families in core non US geographies.

About the authors

Steve Carden PA Transport Innovation lead
Sireesha Ancha PA IP expert

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