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CNET News.com: Patent demands may spur Unisys rivals in graphics market

Apr 18, 2000, 21:19 (2 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Evan Hansen)

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"Unisys is expanding its efforts to license the technology behind the Web's most popular graphics format, as it continues talks with major Internet portals to pay for the right to use so-called GIF files."

"The company has successfully licensed its technology for years, but Web developers say it recently has become more aggressive in asserting its GIF patent, called LZW, targeting Web content companies and charging higher licensing fees...."

"At least one Unisys licensee already has indicated that it plans to limit its use of GIFs, adopting a free alternative known as PNG (pronounced "ping") for distributing graphics files to customers. Accuweather, which sells meteorological data to news outlets and other organizations, said in a memo to its customers on Friday that the switch to PNG will take full effect May 12, although Accuweather will continue to hold the rights to use GIFs on its own Web site...."

"According to one person familiar with the companies' deal, Unisys had requested as much as $3.8 million under one licensing scenario that Accuweather rejected. Starr said Unisys is open to many licensing possibilities, from one-time payments to pay-as-you-go royalties, each with different rights and fees. He added that Unisys in recent years has made it easier and cheaper for companies to license its technology."

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