Today, AT&T is threatening dozens of companies over the MPEG-4 'standard', claiming ownership of one of today's most widely used digital video formats. MPEG-4 is used in Windows Media, Apple Quicktime, DivX, and most other third-party software video players. It is also implemented in countless DVD players and several PVRs.
Much like GIF, JPEG and MP3 today, the patent trolls have shown corporate America how to rake in money. The formula is simple:
- proselytize a standard format, and encourage its widespread use,
- wait until it becomes entrenched in consumer software and products, and only then,
- send out letters demanding that all implementors pay royalties.