RANCHO BERNARDO, Calif. -- France Telecom, the Paris-based telecommunications giant, is gearing up to enforce its patents on forward error correction technology in ICs targeted at third-generation (3G) cellular phones.
The company's North American licensing agent, Spectra Licensing Group here, today announced France Telecom would offer "amnesty" on back royalties related to patents on its Turbo Code technology if chip manufacturers signed licensing agreements before the end of 2001. At the start of 2002, a nominal fee for back royalties will be due for any agreements are signed before March 31, warned Spectra Licensing.
France Telecom claims its Turbo Codes for forward error correction have been adopted into 3G wireless standards--such as 3GPP (CDMA2000) and 3GPP2 (W-CDMA). The company said the patented technology is a key element in fully compatible 3G chip sets and ASICs.
The royalty amnesty program is intended to offer "significant savings" in fees paid by 3G chip set manufacturers, which have already started volume production of products in order to meet the expected rollout of 3G networks and products worldwide, said Spectra Licensing in Rancho Bernardo.
"The amnesty program could result in savings of 100,000 to multi-millions of dollars for potential licensees," said Erik Johnson, director of marketing for Spectra Licensing.
"We have worked with France Telecom to insure incentives for customers who are at earlier stages in their development of Turbo Code applications, such as discounts towards future royalty payments for timely signing of the TCLA Turbo Code licensing agreement," Johnson added.
It is unclear how many chip manufacturers might be using technology similar to the Turbo Codes. Spectrum Licensing did not say how many companies were being targeted by the new campaign.
Turbo Codes were invented in 1993 at France Telecom Research and Development by Claude Berrou, according to Spectrum Licensing. The company said the Turbo Codes are gaining increasing acceptance as a commercially viable forward error correction (FEC) technique in broadband wireless applications. Turbo Codes operate near the Shannon limit of systems and increase bandwidth up to 50%, according to France Telecom. The company said its Turbo Codes are also power efficient and typically achieve a 3dB performance gain over other commercially viable forward error correction codes.
These advantages were factors in having Turbo Codes adopted into 3G standards and the recently finalized Direct Video Broadcast (DVB) format for Return Channel Satellite (DVB-RCS) systems in interactive products, said the company.