With the boom in video sharing due to the covid-19 pandemic, software companies have been updating their SEP portfolios for video codec patents, with the next-generation video codec Versatile Video Coding (VVC) being the most advanced video codec out there. IPlytics examines the companies paving the way for this tech. The next-generation video codec Versatile Video Coding (VVC) (H.266) offers significant technical advantages over its predecessors HEVC (H.265) and AVC (H.264) and competitors (eg, the proprietary codecs AV1 and VP9). Finalised in October 2020, VVC can achieve the same level of perceptual quality as prior video codecs with up to 50% improvement in video coding efficiency, supporting 4K and 8K ultra high definition and high dynamic range. The standard’s designers created it from the ground up with new applications in mind, hence ‘versatile’ in its name.

These performance gains come at an opportune moment, as the centrality of efficient video encoding in modern life grows ever more apparent. A study by Ericsson released last year forecasts that, even as total mobile traffic worldwide is set to quadruple by 2026, the proportion of that traffic for which video accounts will grow from 66% to 77%, assuming that the industry employs efficient compression technology.

Several factors feed into this explosive growth in transmitted video. For the first time, billions of people will have access to high-speed internet and video streaming. Global lockdowns due to covid-19 have drastically increased the prevalence of video streaming and conferencing. In addition, several new use cases for video are on the near horizon, including 360-degree video gaming applications, remote control over manufacturing machines and robotics, and healthcare applications (eg, remote surgery). VVC was designed to meet the world’s demands for efficient video compression and support a variety of new applications. However, to unlock VVC’s potential, industry must account for thousands of SEPs. Patent holders will, in many cases, request royalties for these, and the royalty cost of implementation may play a role in the adoption rate of VVC.

With a choice of VVC pools to join, SEP owners and implementers alike should consider the depth and strength of one another’s SEP portfolios. Complicating this effort is the fact that the universe of VVC SEPs is unknowable thus far. The patent declaration data for VVC –promulgated by the standards body ITU-T and the consortium Joint Video Experts Team (JVET) – is incomplete, as ITU-T does not require SEP owners to identify specific patents as essential. Indeed, as of March 2021, just 23 companies had filed declarations of VVC-essential patents with ITU-T, which is less than half of MC-IF’s membership. One approach to identifying VVC technology leaders is to analyse the involvement of companies in the development of the VVC standard. This report shows the top companies that have submitted approved VVC standard contributions. Here, the IPlytics Platform database gathered more than 8,000 thousand VVC contributions, out of which only about 1,100 VVC contributions were identified as ‘incorporated’ in the final VVC standard as of March 2021.

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