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Alliance pushes for WiMAX patent pool

Posted: 24 Jun 2009 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Open Patent Alliance? WiMAX? Long Term Evolution? Wi-Fi?

The Open Patent Alliance (OPA) has issued a call for patents in an effort to put up a WiMAX patent pool. Via Licensing Corp. will act as administrator of the pool.

Via tried and failed to set up a WiMAX patent pool about 18 months ago. The new effort is expected to fare better given OPA's core membersAcer, Alcatel-Lucent, Alvarion, Cisco Systems, Clearwire, Huawei, Intel and Samsunglikely hold many WiMAX patents.

A Via representative said member of its Wi-Fi patent pool which includes France Telecom Fujitsu, NTT, Philips and Sony may also hold fundamental WiMAX patents. At least two to three companies expected to be significant WiMAX patent holders such as Qualcomm are not members of either group.

"We've done some analysis in that area," said Yung Hahn, president of OPA. "We can accomplish our goals without getting everyone in the pool," he said.

OPA hopes the pool makes it easier for WiMAX companies to license the technology. They also hope the pool acts as a reference for WiMAX licensing terms in any intellectual property disputes.

As many as three groups have called for patents on Long Term Evolution (LTE), another fourth-generation wireless technology and a rival of WiMAX. The prospective LTE pools are being organized by Sisvel of Europe, MPEG-LA and Via.

"We've talked to all three, and they all agree having multiple pools for a single technology is not a good thing but none of them wants to give up the opportunity," said Hahn.

Patent pools have established in technologies such as MPEG a track record of success. That has encouraged others such as the IEEE to explore setting up pools around its communications technologies.

"A pool makes sense where a technology is trying to gain market acceptance," said Mike Mclean, a VP at Semiconductor Insights, a sister division to EE Times. "It allows new entrants an easier path to license patents necessary to practice the technology, but obviously they will still need to deal with organizations outside of the pool enforcing patents in this space," he added.

The OPA will publish on its Website details for submitting patents to be considered for the pool.

- Rick Merritt
EE Times

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