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Forgent Networks today announced that they will begin collecting royalties on their subsidiary’s patent on JPEG compression. The patent was apparently awarded in 1986. They haven’t made any attempt to enforce it before, so their claim may be unenforceable. Patents only last 20 years, so their time is almost up. Plus, people have been using JPEGs for free for all these years. If you let it go that long without doing anything, the courts may throw out their patent claim. And you don’t need to worry about grass roots petitions. I’m sure Microsoft, Adobe, Macromedia, Apple, Kodak, and many other huge companies will not take kindly to an unknown demanding a royalty. It’s just not going to happen.