Google is being accused of trying to patent a new compression technique reportedly invented by a Polish inventor, Ars Technica reports.
According to the report, Duda invented a system called the asymmetric numeral systems (ANS) a few years ago and put in the public domain for anyone to use for free. Since then, it has been used by big tech companies like Google, Apple, and Facebook to create some of their software.
However, Duda now alleges that Google is trying to patent his breakthrough. The claim gains credibility when one considers that European patenting authorities have sided with the Polish computer scientist in the case, but that hasn’t stopped Google from trying to patent a variation of the ANS in the United States.
Speaking to Ars Technica, Google representatives warded off suggestions that the tech giant was attempting to patent somebody else’s work. Although admitting that Duda’s breakthrough was central to the theoretical concept that their software is based on, Google argues a theoretical concept isn’t patentable. Google contends that it is trying to patent a specific application of Duda’s theory that has been expounded by additional work by Google’s engineers.
Duda expects Google to continue trying to patent what he argues is his work, but he doubts the tech company will give him the credit for it.
“We can hope for their goodwill; however, there are no guarantees,” he said.
Ideally, Jarek Duda wants Google not to pursue patenting his work altogether. In the event that the company doesn’t agree, he at least wants Google to provide a legal guarantee that the patent will be free for anyone to use.
Duda’s invention relates to a compression system which Google now intends to use for video compression.
“Compression software looks for statistical patterns in an image—colors or shapes that occur much more frequently than average, for example. Video encoders often use mathematical transformations of the data to identify subtle regularities.”
“Then they compress the image by using shorter bit strings to represent patterns that show up more frequently. ANS-based algorithms can be used to encode image data from a video as easily as a string of alphanumeric symbols.”
The polish inventor contends that the only difference is that Google is now using ANS for video compression, but that is not something which should be patentable, argues Duda.
Google has still not made it clear how its patent is significantly different from what Duda created originally, but it continues to maintain that it will push ahead with patenting the video compression system in the United States.
The case is not done and dusted with European patenting authorities still not having reached a verdict, but this appears to be another instance where a big tech company is using its might to muzzle individual inventors.