MPEG LA has extended the deadline for companies to submit patents neccessary to support AVC, from October 11, 2002 to January 31, 2003. That makes sense, since AVC hasn’t quite reached FDIS (Final Draft International Standard) status, and “essentiality” — whether a patent is essential to AVC — can only be determined against the final text.
MPEG LA licenses “patent portfolios” for technologies like MPEG-2, FireWire, DVB-T and (soon) MPEG-4. In other words, they’re the one-stop licensing shop that companies will go to when they want to use MPEG-4 Visual or MPEG-4 Systems patents.
AVC (a.k.a. H.264, JVT, etc.) is the forthcoming MPEG-4 video codec, which MPEG intends to finalize in December. MPEG-4’s current video codec offers very good quality, but not enough to match the quality of proprietary codecs even with all of its quality-enhancing “tools” enabled. The perception of MPEG-4’s current video quality is not helped by implementations such as Apple’s, which offers quality levels significantly below what today’s MPEG-4 Video codec is capable of.