One result of the public outcry over Unisys' patent licensing announcement was the creation of web sites purporting to demonstrate why software patents should not be allowed. These sites included a short tutorial on mentally performing the LZW method on a 1-pixel GIF. After completing the tutorial, the site visitor was informed that his or her brain infringed the GIF patent. To continue thinking, the visitor should be prepared to pay the proper license fee1.Download
US Patent 4,558,302, commonly known as the "GIF patent" is a patent describing the application of Lempel-Ziv-Welch (LZW) compression to a string of symbols; this technique was eventually adopted as part of the 1987 CIF graphics standard. In August 1999, the owners of the '302 patent, Unisys, announced that anyone using CIFs on a web site would have to license the GIF patent for a one-time fee of USD 5000 - USD 7000.
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