From Event: SPIE Optical Engineering + Applications, 2016
Digital video coding is over 60 years old and the first major video coding standard – H.261 – is over 25 years old, yet
today there are more patents than ever related to, or evaluated as essential to video coding standards. This paper
examines the historical development of video coding standards, from the perspective of when the significant
contributions for video coding technology were made, what performance can be attributed to those contributions and
when original patents were filed for those contributions. These patents have now expired, so the main video coding tools,
which provide the significant majority of coding performance, are now royalty-free. The deployment of video coding
tools in a standard involves several related developments. The tools themselves have evolved over time to become more
adaptive, taking advantage of the increased complexity afforded by advances in semiconductor technology. In most
cases, the improvement in performance for any given tool has been incremental, although significant improvement has
occurred in aggregate across all tools. The adaptivity must be mirrored by the encoder and decoder, and advances have
been made in reducing the overhead of signaling adaptive modes and parameters. Efficient syntax has been developed to
provide such signaling. Furthermore, efficient ways of implementing the tools with limited precision, simple
mathematical operators have been developed. Correspondingly, categories of patents related to video coding can be
defined. Without discussing active patents, this paper provides the timeline of the developments of video coding and lays
out the landscape of patents related to video coding. This provides a foundation on which royalty free video codec
design can take place.
Cliff Reader, "Patent landscape for royalty-free video coding," Proc. SPIE 9971, Applications of Digital Image Processing XXXIX, 99711B (Presented at SPIE Optical Engineering + Applications: August 31, 2016; Published: 28 September 2016); https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2239493.
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