by Markus Kuhn
For many years, the doubts about the patent situation had prevented the JBIG1 standard from becoming widely used on the Internet (e.g., as of 2012, no web browser has support for it integrated). As the author of a freely available JBIG1 implementation, I was interested in the patent license requirements for the JBIG1 standard. This page describes what I had learned.
On 2012-04-04, the last of the known JBIG1 patents expired. The JBIG1 standard was approved and published in March 1993 (WTSC, Helsinki), and a final draft (WG9-S1R5.1) had been widely circulated in April 1992. So any claims in patents filed after April 1992 have to stand against the JBIG1 final draft as prior art, and anything filed before would by now (more than 20 years later) have expired. So this page is now just of historic interest.
Annex E of the JBIG1 standard (ITU-T Recommendation T.82(1993) and International Standard ISO/IEC 1154 4:1993), lists the following patents filed in the home country of the applicant and says that a license for these might be required to implement the standard:
|IBM||A method and means for pipeline decoding of the high to low order pairwise combined digits of a decodable set of relatively shifted finite number of strings||US 4295125||1981-10-13||expired|
|IBM||A method and means for carry-over control in a high order to low order combining of digits of a decodable set of relatively shifted finite number strings||US 4463342||1984-07-31||expired|
|IBM||High-speed arithmetic compression using concurrent value updating||US 4467317||1984-08-21||expired|
|IBM||Method and means for arithmetic coding using a reduced number of operations||US 4286256||1981-08-25||expired|
|IBM||A multiplication-free multi-alphabet arithmetic code||US 4652856||1986-02-04||expired|
|IBM||Symmetrical adaptive data compression/decompression system||US 4633490||1986-12-30||expired|
|IBM||Arithmetic coding data compression/de-compression by selectively employed, diverse arithmetic encoders and decoders||US 4891643||1986-09-15||1990-01-02||expired 2007-01-02|
|IBM||System for compressing bi-level data||US 4901363||1988-09-28||1990-02-13||expired 2007-02-13|
|IBM||Arithmetic coding encoder and decoder system||US 4905297||1988-11-18||1990-02-27||expired 2007-02-27|
|IBM||Probability adaptation for arithmetic coders||US 4935882||1988-07-20||1990-06-19||expired 2007-06-19|
|IBM||Probability adaptation for arithmetic coders||US 5099440||1990-01-05||1992-03-24||expired 2009-03-24|
|IBM||Method and apparatus for processing pel signals of an image||US 4982292||1988-09-30||1991-01-01||expired 2008-09-30|
|AT&T||Progressive transmission of high resolution two-tone facsimile images||US 4870497||1988-01-22||1989-09-26||expired in US 2008-01-22|
|AT&T||Edge decomposition for the transmission of high resolution facsimile images||US 4873577||1988-01-22||1989-10-10||expired 2008-01-22|
|AT&T||Adaptive probability estimator for entropy encoder/decoder||US 5025258||1989-06-01||1991-06-18||expired in US 2009-06-01|
|AT&T||Efficient encoding/decoding in the decomposition and recomposition of a high resolution image utilizing its low resolution replica||US 4979049||1989-06-01||1990-12-18||expired in US 2009-06-01|
|AT&T||Efficient encoding/decoding in the decomposition and recomposition of a high resolution image utilizing pixel clusters||US 5031053||1989-06-01||1991-07-09||expired in US 2009-06-01|
|AT&T||Entropy encoder/decoder including a context extractor||US 5023611||1989-07-28||1991-06-11||expired in US 2009-07-28|
avoidable with MX = MY = 0
|AT&T||Method and apparatus for carry-over control in arithmetic entropy coding||US 4973961||1990-02-12||1990-11-27||expired in US 2010-02-12|
expires in JP 2011-02-12
irrelevant in decoder
|KDD||Methods for reduced-sized images||JP Appl. S63-212432|
|1988-08-29||1990-03-02||expired in JP 2008-08-29|
|KDD + Canon||Image reduction system||JP Appl. H01-167033|
|1989-06-30||1991-02-14||expired in JP 2009-06-30|
expired in US 2010-03-30
|Mitsubishi||Facsimile encoding communication system||JP
|1984-07-06||would have expired|
|Mitsubishi||Encoding method||?||?||“pending”||expired in US 2012-04-04|
expired elsewhere 2011-02-25
US patents filed before 1995-08-06 expire 17 years after the patent issue date shown on front of the patent (INID code 45), or 20 years after the application date of the earliest related application shown on front of the patent (INID codes 62 or 63), whichever is later. More on how to calculate patent expiry dates in other countries ...
The Patent Lens links above can help to find related patent filings in other countries. For Japanese patents see the Industrial Property Digital Library.
The owners of the above patents have filed with the ISO and ITU a statement of willingness to grant a license under these rights on reasonable and non-discriminatory terms and conditions to applications desiring to obtain such a license. These statements are recorded in the ITU Patents Database.
The core patents were the ones owned by IBM on the QM coder, but IBM had waived the need to pay them licence fees for implementations of the JPEG/JBIG standards (see below). Some of the other patents were not applicable if progressive coding is not used (which is not needed by many applications, including the T.85 fax profile). In some countries, non-commercial and research use of patented ideas does not require a license anyway.
US 4973961 protected a truely trivial programming technique and could be circumvented with a slightly more clumsy way of coding the arithmetic encoder. US 5023611 related to the adaptive template pixel. Use of the latter can easily be switched off in the encoder (just set MX=0), but its support is required in any decoder that claims T.85 compliance.
Mitsubishi did not provide exact references to their JBIG1 patents at the time Appendix E of the standard was written. However, they eventually sent me a list of their patents that they considered relevant to JBIG1. On this list, the last patent family to expire worldwide included US5307062 (expired 2011-04-26) and US5404140 (expired 2012-04-04).
These two US patents disclosed exactly the same invention, namely the conditional MPS/LPS exchange that the JBIG1 arithmetic codec performs if the LPS sub-interval is larger than the MPS sub-interval (see paragraphs 22.214.171.124, 126.96.36.199, and the “A < LSZ[ST[CX]]?” test in figures 23, 24, 33, 34 in the standard). This trick is used by all JBIG1 implementations and is not an optional part of the standard. The above two US patents differ only in trivial editorial changes in the description and the later patent has a longer list of claims (which all just rephrase in many different ways the exact same technical idea). In all other countries (except for Japan), the list gives only a single equivalent patent.
The above two US patents expired relatively late, as they still fell under the old publication-date-plus-17-years rule. In other countries, the equivalent patents (AU633187, CA2036992, DE6912881, FR/GB/EP0444543, KR940005514 (10-0077510), HK1008764) all expired before 2011-02-26, i.e. 21 years after the original Japanese patent had been filed on 1990-02-26.
So, as far as I understand (IANAPL):
JBIG1 has been free of patent-licencing requirements worldwide since 2012-04-04
Annex E of JBIG1 also provides contact addresses for patent information:
Director, Telecommunication Standardization Bureau (formerly CCITT) International Telecommunication Union Place des Nations CH-1211 Genève 20 Switzerland Tel: +41 (22) 730 5111 Fax: +41 (22) 730 5853 ITTF International Organization for Standardization 1, rue de Varembé CH-1211 Genève 20 Switzerland Tel: +41 (22) 734 0150 Fax: +41 (22) 733 3843 Program Manager Licensing Intellectual Property and Licensing Services IBM Corporation 208 Harbor Drive P.O. Box 10501 Stamford, Connecticut 08904-2501 Tel: +1 (203) 973 7935 Fax: +1 (203) 973 7981 or +1 (203) 973 7982 Mitsubishi Electric Corp. Intellectual Property License Department 1-2-3 Morunouchi, Chiyoda-ku Tokyo 100 Japan Tel: +81 (3) 3218 3465 Fax: +81 (3) 3215 3842 International Affairs Department Kokusai Denshin Denwa Co. Ltd. 3-2 Nishishinjuku 2-chome Shinjuku-ku Tokyo 163 Japan Tel: +81 (3) 3347 6457 Tel: +81 (3) 3347 6470 AT&T Intellectual Property Division Manager Room 3A21 10 Independence Blvd. Warren, NJ 07059 USA Tel: +1 (908) 580 5392 Fax: +1 (908) 580 6355 Senior General Manager Corporate Intellectual Property and Legal Headquarters Canon Inc. 30-2 Shimomaruko 3-chome Ohta-ku, Tokyo 146 Japan Tel: +81 (3) 3758 2111 Fax: +81 (3) 3756 0947
Information received from these so far:
I read with great interest in Annex I of the final draft for JBIG2 (ISO/IEC FCD 14492, ITU-T T.88) that IBM has agreed to license the arithmetic encoding patents free of charge to JBIG2 implementors. Apparently, the IBM IPR statement provided for JPEG2000 (ISO/IEC 15444 and ITU-T T.800) and JBIG2 allows no-royalty use of the patents on a certain list for “any WG1 standard”, which refers to the ISO/IEC working group that comprises both JBIG and JPEG. This sounds very much like IBM will allow royalty-free use of the patents on that list for JBIG1 as well.
Thanks to Sebestyen Istvan and William Rucklidge from the JPEG/JBIG committee (ISO/IEC JTC 1/SC 29/WG 1 and ITU-T SG8) for helpful information.
created 2002-07-29 – last modified 2013-02-01 – http://www.cl.cam.ac.uk/~mgk25/jbigkit/patents.html