The lives, and potential liability of licensees and licensors of the High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC) H.265 digital compression system might just have become a lot less complicated.

That’s because Access Advance, administrators of one of the patent pools handling HEVC H.265 announced Thursday a new “HEVC Advance Platform Pool structure.”

HEVC is the most popular digital compression format used to ship across limited bandwidth conduits large volume content files such as digital 4K & 8K Ultra HD video (among other resolution formats).

The technology licensing body issued a statement Thursday saying “the new and simplified structure will benefit both HEVC implementers (licensees) and HEVC standard essential patent owners (licensors).”

Under the new structure, licensees will receive “an expanded license which now includes all HEVC Profiles through Version 7 at the existing Main/Main 10 royalty rates, eliminating the separate additional royalties required under the current license for Version 2 HEVC Profiles and Optional Patents.”

The structure simplifies a process that previously exposed licensees to separate layers of royalties for extensions onto the HEVC Main and Main 10 profiles. As an example, this includes the use of the Supplemental Enhancement Information (SEI) Message used in a signal for metadata extensions. These can be standardized or proprietary (messages that only certain terminal equipment can understand), covering such things as color remapping information from one color space to another and knee function information that suggests how to convert from one dynamic range to a different dynamic range, like how to compress the upper range of HDR video that has a luminance level of 800 cd/m2 for output on a 100 cd/m2 display.

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Access said new licensees to the HEVC Advance pool can now “execute the new Platform License and immediately have the benefit of the new expanded license.” At the same time, existing licensees “may transition over to the new Platform License at any time, and are encouraged to do so promptly in order to avoid any future royalty obligations for Version 2 Profiles and Optional Patents under their existing licenses.”

“Current Licensors—and any other entities that believe they have essential patents—may now submit Version 3-7 Profile patents for evaluation and inclusion in the license, thus earning royalties for these more recent inventions. Additionally, under the new Platform License all licensors will now be eligible to receive a minimum annual revenue allocation, ensuring licensors that hold valued patents in smaller portfolios are rewarded for their participation in the HEVC Advance pool,” the group’s announcement stated.

Pete Moller, Access Advance CEO, said, “The launch of the new HEVC Platform License is a major milestone for us, providing the market substantial benefits in expanded license coverage and a simplified license. We hope these changes will help accelerate adoption of many of the technology enhancements offered by the additional HEVC Profiles. As well, we hope that our new licensor benefits will help further consolidate the HEVC pool landscape, especially for patent owners with smaller patent portfolios.”

Access Advance said the new HEVC Advance Platform Pool structure is the first step in its Video Codec Platform Initiative, which will soon be expanded with the launch of the Versatile Video Coding (VVC) Advance pool.

Access Advance said it is currently in the development phase for the VVC Advance Patent Pool for licensing essential patents to VVC/H.266 technology, which is a next generation compression technology with additional digital compression efficiencies to HEVC.

“In addition—and importantly, for products with both HEVC and VVC video codecs—we will be launching the Multi-Codec Bridging Agreement, which will offer licensees in both the HEVC Advance and VVC Advance pools a royalty rate structure that takes into account multiple video codecs on a device. This innovation responds to the market’s desire for even more efficient next-generation pool licensing structures. Further announcements on the VVC Advance Pool and Multi-Codec Bridging Agreement are expected in the near future,” the announcement said.

HEVC and VVC will be vying for use among a slate of new digital compressions technologies such as AOMedia’s AV1, China’s AVS2 and others, some of which promote “open platform” status to contend with complicated HEVC licensing structures and a large field of pertinent patent holders. This new structure should alleviate some of the complexity.

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By Greg Tarr

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