Forgent Networks (formally known as VTEL) has posted a press release stating their claim to JPEG and their intention to pursue licensing revenue from companies who use it. They own United States patent 4,698,672 which covers the JPEG compression standard, this patent was created by Compression Labs who Forgent bought back in 1997. The press release specifically mentions digital cameras as well as PDA's, web browsers, phones and scanners. It looks as though Sony has already paid for the privilege...

From Forgent's own SEC Filing:

In May 2002, Forgent signed a multi-million dollar patent license agreement with Sony Corporation, a leading manufacturer of audio, video, communications and information technology products for the consumer and professional markets. The patent agreement relates to the Company's data compression technology and marks the second such agreement that Forgent has obtained. The first agreement, with another prestigious international company, was signed in April 2002 and generated $15.0 million in revenue during the three months ended April 30, 2002 for the Company. The Company is pursuing additional license agreements with other companies from multiple industries; however, there can be no assurance that additional licenses can be obtained or, if obtained will be on similar favorable terms.

Press Release:

Forgent Networks Clarifies Licensing Arrangement

AUSTIN, Texas, Jul 11, 2002 (BUSINESS WIRE) -- Forgent(tm) Networks Inc. (Nasdaq:FORG) today clarified its licensing program regarding Forgent's JPEG data compression technology, owned by its subsidiary Compression Labs Inc., embodied in U.S. Patent No. 4,698,672.

JPEG is a standardized image compression mechanism and is designed for compressing either full-color or gray-scale still images.

Forgent has the sole and exclusive right to use and license all the claims under the '672 patent that implement JPEG in all "fields of use" except in the satellite broadcast business. Forgent's "fields of use" for licensing opportunities include digital cameras, digital still image devices, personal digital assistants (PDA's), cellular telephones that download images, browsers, digital camcorders with a still image function, scanners and other devices used to compress, store, manipulate, print or transmit digital images.

Forgent and a national law firm, who has made and continues to make a significant investment to develop Forgent's IP licensing program, are the sole beneficiaries of the patent license revenue.

"We wanted to ensure the investment community and the general public are clear about the terms of our valuable JPEG data compression technology, one of the many technologies we have in our patent portfolio," stated Richard Snyder, chairman and chief executive officer at Forgent. "We are in ongoing discussions with other manufacturers of digital still cameras, printers, scanners and other products that use JPEG technology for licensing opportunities."