MobileMedia Ideas LLC didn't create a big stir when it launched in January. Instead, the holding company simply issued a press release in which it let the world know that it would "make available" its innovations, (which is, of course, generally considered to be patent-speak for, "We will be suing people shortly"). MobileMedia, which holds 122 patents it acquired from Sony and Nokia, was even quieter when it acted on its euphemistic pledge in March by filing separate infringement suits against three leading smartphone makers.There's nothing new or unusual about a patent-holding company tossing a few lawsuits against the wall to try to wring some cash out of the smartphone industry, which has lately become crowded with lawsuits filed by holding companies and competing companies alike.
What is unusual is who owns MobileMedia: MPEG-LA, the private company that oversees a total of eight patent pools covering important digital video standards—MPEG-2 and MPEG-4 being the most common—used in DVD players and pretty much every other device that supports digital video. Contributors to those pools, whose contents MPEG-LA has licensed to literally hundreds of companies, include Hewlett-Packard, Panasonic, Sony, and Cisco subsidiary Scientific Atlanta (see full list). MPEG-LA's CEO Larry Horn also heads MobileMedia.