A Polish Academy is accusing Google of trying to get a patent on their technology that was an Asymmetrical Numeral System(ANS). He further conveyed that he invented the technology and purposely released it into the public domain so as to save it form companies like Google could not trap it inside restrictive licenses. The technology Asymmetrical Numeral System, a family of entropy coding method that Polish assistant professor Jarosław (Jarek) Duda developed between 2006 and 2013.
ANS is a game changer for Data Compression
Over many years, due to its many disadvantages, variation in Duda’s ANS technology , tANS, and rANS, have been adopted in several data compression systems, such as Apple’s LZFSE compressor, Facebook’s Zstandard compressor, and Google’s Draco3D compressor. Moreover, ANS is also considered for the coding phase of AV1, an upcoming open video coding format. Tech companies are choosing Duda’s ANS technology because it provides faster compression and decompression speed with minimal data loss, without the downside of huge computational cost. The rough estimation shows that Duda’s ANS is between 3 to 30 times faster when compared to classic Huffman and arithmetic coding technique used in the past. It is no wonder that whoever holds an ANS-related patent could be in line for some pretty big royalties in upcoming future.
Google files for ANS-related patent in over 100 countries
The very first company that tried to patent this technology was StoreLeap in UK, but Duda moved quickly to block the company’s application with UK Intellectual Property office, nonetheless, the patient is very close to being approved in the U.S. Duda is now in a bigger fight, as the world’s valuable companies, then Google also filed a similar patent application in the US and more than 100 countries.
The researchers did not take Google’s patent application lightly, calling it a nice “thank-you”, from a multi-billion “don’t be a devil”, corporation to a poor academic whose work they use for free.
Researchers intentionally released ANS into Public Domain
In a patent application, he filed in US and WIPO officials, Duda specifically mentions that he published all ANS research in the public domain to ” protect its use from becoming a legal minefield.” Duda also points out that Google was well aware of his work, and he even helped Google’s staff implement ANS for video file compression. The researcher now claims that Google is trying to patent some of the concepts he shared with the company’s engineer. The researcher had told that the content of this patent application is a direct natural modification of a textbook way for encoding transform coefficient that represents image block in video and image compression.
He further added that the concerned patent application also briefly introduces well-known basic techniques of ANS, used by dozens of people in various public implementation. Duda asked the USPTO and WIPO in his complaint that Despite dubious innovation claim, this application can be seen as a legal risk for both existing ANS -based image compressor and for other parties considering ANS for future image and video compressor. Therefore he requested the rejection of this application.
Patents org may side with Polish Researcher
International Search Authority(ISA), a WIPO department tasked with searching prior art patents, has already sided with Duda already sided with Duda on the topic and published a scathing review, calling Google’s patent as not comprising “an inventive contribution over prior art, because it is no more than a straightforward application of known coding algorithm.”
Writing on online forums Duda told that he has high hopes when he first reached out to Google. He further added that they promised for the formal collaboration with the university so that they could bring their team, but later on they showed silence after his patent application. The researcher told Bleeping Computer via email that Google is not responding, probably currently rewriting the patent showing its determination to reach this monopoly.
Google did not reply to a request for comment. The article will be updated with any official statement if the company decides to provide context for its patent application. The mystery remains surrounding Google’s decision to patent something that is in the public domain since 2014.