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HEVC Advance Misses First Milestone

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HEVC Advance is a second HEVC patent group that launched with much fanfare and minimal details just before NAB. You can read our summary of the launch and its implications here.

In its press releasedated March 26, 2015, HEVC Advance stated, “The initial list of licensors is expected to include GE, Technicolor, Dolby, Philips and Mitsubishi Electric. Royalty rates and licensing terms will be made available in the second quarter. The HEVC Advance patent pool will formally launch in the third quarter of 2015.” This was a promise that HEVC Advance executive Pete Moller confirmed in my discussions with him in early April. 

Through their press representatives, HEVC Advance sent me an email on June 19 that said, “HEVC Advance will announce licensing terms this quarter. Are you available for a briefing on June 26?  The information in the briefing will be under embargo until June 30 (specific timing to be shared soon).” I agreed to the embargo and scheduled the briefing.

On June 24, 2015, HEVC Advance cancelled with a note stating, “The HEVC Advance announcement has been postponed, so we’ll need to cancel the briefing currently scheduled for Friday, June 26. We’ll absolutely be in touch when the updated timing is confirmed.”

So, the second quarter promise regarding the disclosure of rates and licensing terms wasn’t met. This isn’t a nah-nah-na-na-nah article; companies miss deadlines all the time. Rather, the missed deadline is worth noting for several reasons.

First, if you’re a company using or considering using HEVC, you need to know those terms. This delay is meaningful and likely frustrating. Second, it’s to appreciate the work that MPEG LA did to bring us a licensing program that, while not totally inclusive, is at least existing and defined.

To certain individuals, MPEG LA has become a punching bag, a convenient target accused of stunting innovation and increasing costs among other nefarious results. In truth, companies invest in intellectual property because they intend to make a profit from it, and patent laws around the world protect these rights. Without an organization like MPEG LA, companies that use HEVC technology would have to negotiate individually with each patent holder, which would render the technology unusable.

What about HEVC Advance? Well, HEVC Advance’s website is replete with videos of happy Generation X-aged video consumers with a politically correct mix of men and women of various races. It’s actually kind of funny, as if they’re saying; “Yeah, we want your money, but we’ll deliver happy viewers in the optimal demographics.”

What it’s short on is information. If you click over to the Licensing page, you’ll see headings for topics like HEVC Advance Licensors and Licensees, Patent List, Royalty Rate Summary, Marketing Guidelines, License Agreements, Brand/Packaging Guidelines. None of the headings have links. 

More than 60 days after the initial announcement, we still don’t know royalty rates and licensing terms. In fact, we know very little at all. It seems that it’s really easy to form a group of five major IP holders and noisily announce it to the world. What’s hard is getting them to agree on terms.

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