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JPEG patent challenged

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The latest patent to come under scrutiny from advocacy groups is a data compression patent granted in 1987, currently held by Forgent Networks, that is used in the JPEG image file format. Claiming that it has found prior art on Forgent's patent, the Public Patent Foundation (PubPat) is challenging it, asking the US Patent and Trademark Office to revoke Forgent's patent.

Forgent acquired the rights to the patent in 1997 when it purchased Compression Labs. Around a year-and-a-half ago, someone at Forgent apparently noticed the patent laying in the corner of an unused office. "Hey, we could use this to sue people and make lots of money!" was apparently the next thought to pop into Forgent's collective head, as the company proceeded to file patent infringement lawsuits against some larger companies that use the JPEG format in their products. Thus Adobe, Apple, Google, Microsoft, and Sun have found themselves in a legal fight against Forgent.

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