JBIG1 patent information

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.

Patent list

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:

IBMA 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 stringsUS 42951251981-10-13expired
IBMA 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 stringsUS 44633421984-07-31expired
IBMHigh-speed arithmetic compression using concurrent value updatingUS 44673171984-08-21expired
IBMMethod and means for arithmetic coding using a reduced number of operationsUS 42862561981-08-25expired
IBMA multiplication-free multi-alphabet arithmetic codeUS 46528561986-02-04expired
IBMSymmetrical adaptive data compression/decompression systemUS 46334901986-12-30expired
IBMArithmetic coding data compression/de-compression by selectively employed, diverse arithmetic encoders and decodersUS 48916431986-09-151990-01-02expired 2007-01-02
IBMSystem for compressing bi-level dataUS 49013631988-09-281990-02-13expired 2007-02-13
IBMArithmetic coding encoder and decoder systemUS 49052971988-11-181990-02-27expired 2007-02-27
IBMProbability adaptation for arithmetic codersUS 49358821988-07-201990-06-19expired 2007-06-19
IBMProbability adaptation for arithmetic codersUS 50994401990-01-051992-03-24expired 2009-03-24
IBMMethod and apparatus for processing pel signals of an imageUS 49822921988-09-301991-01-01expired 2008-09-30
lapsed 1999-01-01
AT&TProgressive transmission of high resolution two-tone facsimile imagesUS 48704971988-01-221989-09-26expired in US 2008-01-22
AT&TEdge decomposition for the transmission of high resolution facsimile imagesUS 48735771988-01-221989-10-10expired 2008-01-22
AT&TAdaptive probability estimator for entropy encoder/decoderUS 50252581989-06-011991-06-18expired in US 2009-06-01
AT&TEfficient encoding/decoding in the decomposition and recomposition of a high resolution image utilizing its low resolution replicaUS 49790491989-06-011990-12-18expired in US 2009-06-01
AT&TEfficient encoding/decoding in the decomposition and recomposition of a high resolution image utilizing pixel clustersUS 50310531989-06-011991-07-09expired in US 2009-06-01
AT&TEntropy encoder/decoder including a context extractorUS 50236111989-07-281991-06-11expired in US 2009-07-28
avoidable with MX = MY = 0
AT&TMethod and apparatus for carry-over control in arithmetic entropy codingUS 49739611990-02-121990-11-27expired in US 2010-02-12
expires in JP 2011-02-12
irrelevant in decoder
KDDMethods for reduced-sized imagesJP Appl. S63-212432
JP H02-062164
1988-08-291990-03-02expired in JP 2008-08-29
KDD + CanonImage reduction systemJP Appl. H01-167033
JP H03-034677
US 5159468
1989-06-301991-02-14expired in JP 2009-06-30
expired in US 2010-03-30
MitsubishiFacsimile encoding communication systemJP 1251403
(wrong number?)
1984-07-06would have expired
MitsubishiEncoding method??“pending”expired in US 2012-04-04
expired elsewhere 2011-02-25
see below

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 patents

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,, 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
Tel: +41 (22) 730 5111
Fax: +41 (22) 730 5853

International Organization for Standardization
1, rue de Varembé
CH-1211 Genève 20
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
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
Tel: +81 (3) 3347 6457
Tel: +81 (3) 3347 6470 

AT&T Intellectual Property Division Manager
Room 3A21
10 Independence Blvd. Warren, NJ 07059
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
Tel: +81 (3) 3758 2111
Fax: +81 (3) 3756 0947

Information received from these so far:

JBIG2 license waiver

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.

See also

created 2002-07-29 – last modified 2013-02-01 – http://www.cl.cam.ac.uk/~mgk25/jbigkit/patents.html