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

“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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