AAC Frequently Asked Questions

Who must sign a license?

An AAC patent license is needed by manufacturers or developers of end-user encoder and/or decoder products.

What products are covered by the license?

Licensee's end-user products, when sold directly or through distribution to end users, are covered by the license. Licensee's products that are not end-user products are not covered by the license and would require that the party incorporating such a component or implementation into its end-user product obtain a license.

What technologies are covered under the AAC patent licensing program?

The license encompasses MPEG-2 AAC LC (including MPEG-2 AAC LC in combination with SBR), MPEG-4 AAC LC, MPEG-4 High Efficiency AAC (or HE AAC, also sometimes known as aacPlus), and MPEG-4 HE AAC v2. Also included in the license are patents essential to the MPEG-4 Low Delay AAC Profile, MPEG-4 ER AAC Scalable, MPEG-4 ER AAC ELD and AAC-ELD v2. The license provides comprehensive coverage of those aspects of MPEG-2 and MPEG-4 AAC in commercial practice.  The License grants licensees the right to use the licensed patents solely for the purpose of practicing these technologies and not for use with any other audio technology.

Are there use fees for AAC?

No. License fees are due on the sale of encoders and/or decoders only. There are no patent license fees due on the distribution of bit-stream encoded in AAC, whether such bit-streams are broadcast, streamed over a network, or provided on physical media.

What is the term of the AAC license?

The term of the license is five years, and can be renewed for additional five year terms.

I am already a licensee of MPEG-4 AAC and HE AAC. How can I take the AAC license?

Companies already licensed under previous MPEG-2 and/or MPEG-4 AAC agreements can execute the AAC license and then terminate their earlier agreement(s) simply by providing notice to Via. Some licensees may find it to their advantage to retain their current license and continue reporting some products under their earlier agreement, while reporting other products under the AAC agreement. In such a case both agreements will be active and the licensee will report separately under each.

Besides the license fees, are there any other costs involved?

There is an initial fee of $15,000 due upon execution of the license. This fee is a one-time charge and not an annual fee or an annual minimum. Small entities, defined as those with fifteen or fewer employees and with annual gross revenues of less than US $1 million, qualify for a reduced initial fee of $1,000. The initial fee will be waived for existing MPEG-2 AAC, MPEG-4 AAC, or MPEG-4 HE AAC licensees that take the AAC license.

The AAC License Fee page used to present different pricing for PC software products. Is this pricing still available?

Yes, PC Software and PC Enabling Software pricing remains available for products that have been approved by Via for reporting in these categories.

Who are the licensors participating in the AAC Licensing Program?

The set of companies granting rights to their essential AAC patents through the AAC patent license agreement is presented here.

How can I obtain a sample license for review?

A sample of the AAC patent license agreement can be provided in electronic form via email. You can request a sample license by completing the sample request form on the Via Licensing website.

What do I need to do in order to execute the agreement and obtain a license?

After your review of the sample agreement, Via Licensing staff is available to answer any questions you may have. When you are ready to execute the agreement, Via will prepare two hard copies of the AAC Patent License Agreement with your company information added to the cover page and signature page. These copies will be shipped via courier for execution, or if you prefer Via can provide the executable agreement in electronic form via e-mail. When both copies are signed and returned to Via, they will be countersigned by Via Licensing and one copy returned to the licensee while the second copy is retained for ViaÕs records. The initial fee (except from existing licensees migrating to the AAC agreement) is due within four weeks of the effective date of the agreement, and as long as the licensee complies with the conditions of the license, the license remains in effect for a five-year (renewable) term.

What are the reporting requirements of the AAC Program?

Licensees must report the sales of licensed products on a quarterly basis, using a secure website. The specific information required in the quarterly reports is simply the product designation (name and/or model number) and the number of units of each product sold in the quarter.

What is meant by a "reset" in the fee schedule?

A reset means that the per-unit fees are calculated from the quantity one price on a recurring basis. In the case of an annual reset, the royalties are calculated against the number of AAC products sold within a year starting at the quantity one price, regardless of the number of AAC products sold during the previous year. A year does not necessarily begin with the first calendar quarter, but is defined as four consecutive quarters starting with the first quarter for which a licensee reports.

What is the definition of a "professional" product?

A professional product is intended primarily for an end user’s direct revenue generating use or is intended to serve as a main resource to generate revenue for end users, including monitoring or testing equipment. The AAC patent license does not make a pricing distinction between consumer and professional products, a single rate table applies to both.

Is there a difference between license fees for multichannel products and stereo products?

Under the AAC Patent License Agreement, a stereo product is counted as a single unit while a multichannel product is counted as 1.5 units when calculating license fees.

How are products categorized as either stereo products or multichannel products?

A device is considered a multichannel product if it includes a decoder that receives an AAC signal and decodes that signal into three or more channels of a different (compressed or uncompressed) audio format. A device that includes an encoder which is capable of producing an encoded AAC signal that consists of three or more channels is also considered a multichannel product.

"Channel" here means an audio channel, as in left, right, center, back-left, etc., and not, for example a television broadcast channel. Examples of multichannel products include: a device that produces a six-channel PCM signal at the output stage of a decoder; a device that presents a six-channel analog signal at the back panel of an A/V receiver; or a device which transcodes a 5.1 channel AAC signal into a different (compressed or uncompressed) format. 

As an exception to the above, a device that decodes a multichannel AAC signal and only down-mixes to stereo (either during or after decoding), without providing any multichannel output, would not be considered a multichannel product.

Is there a trial period available for licensed products?

Yes, licensees can provide end users with products for a trial period of up to 30-days.

What do I get after signing the AAC Patent License Agreement?

Licensees receive an agreement that has been executed by themselves and by Via Licensing acting in its capacity as an agent on behalf of the licensors. The agreement grants licensees the right to use the licensed patents for the sole purpose of practicing the AAC Standard as defined in the agreement. There are no additional deliverables (such as source code, compliance bit-streams, or technical support) under the AAC patent licensing program.

Where can I get code or other "know-how" for AAC?

A number of companies license implementations of various AAC technologies. In addition, reference software can be obtained from the ISO Store at http://www.iso.org/iso/en/prods-services/ISOstore/store.html. Via Licensing is not a source for code or engineering/technical support for AAC.

These answers to frequently-asked-questions are provided to explain the licensing program. The terms and conditions governing the license are provided in the license agreement.