Since 1986, Patent No. 4,698,672 has done little more than languish in the archives of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
Government examiners first issued the patent, which covers a “coding system for reducing redundancy” to a San Jose, California, company called Compression Labs. The approval came more than a decade before the digital imaging technology known as JPEG reached mass-market popularity.
Sixteen years later, however, the Austin, Texas, software developer that now owns the patents is seeing fresh value in an old document. The company, Forgent Networks, says the patent directly applies to a compression technique used in the creation of JPEG images. Also see Wired article.