LONDON Via Licensing Corp. is looking to administer a patent pool for companies and research institutes claiming to have Intellectual Property for the emerging fast date rate cellular technology Long Term Evolution (LTE).
Last April a group of equipment vendors and handset makers already teamed up to craft a licensing framework for the fourth-generation mobile standard that is based on the 3G Partnership Project's (3GPP) E-UTRA Series 36, release 8 specifications.
MPEG LA LLC (Denver, Colo.), the organization set up to administer access to MPEG patents, but which has also branched out into other sectors, has also started working on a patent pool for LTE and has said that several companies have already shown interest in participating in its pooling efforts.
Via already administers patent pools for a number of technologies, notably in the broadcast, audio and wireless space, including those for MPEG2, 802.11 based Wi-Fi and near field communications (NFC). The company is a spin-out from Dolby Laboratories Inc.
Patent pools have become increasingly popular in recent years to handle licensing in cases of relatively large numbers of patent holders and licensors. The pools can help lower transaction costs and reduce uncertainty and time spent negotiating deals, sometimes with competitors across barriers of language and geography.
"Several of the world's leading mobile carriers, handset makers, and equipment makers have identified LTE as a strategic priority," said Jean-Michel Bourdon, President, Via Licensing. ôVia Licensing is committed to working with the industry to create a joint licensing program that balances the needs of licensors and licensees and enables the industry to more effectively develop and deliver products and services based on LTE."
The equipment vendors and handset makers that teamed up in April 2008 to establish rules for licensing patents related to the technology included Nokia, Nokia Siemens Networks, NextWave Wireless, Alcatel-Lucent, Sony Ericsson, NEC and Ericsson. They decided to push for "fair and reasonable" licensing terms for the patents related to the so-called 4G wireless network technology.
The group invited others to join the effort, saying they want the maximum aggregate royalty bill in an LTE handset to be a single digit percentage of the sale price.
Several semiconductor companies also claim IP essential to the technology, including Qualcomm Inc. None of these were involved in this original patent pooling effort, and neither was Nortel, who has already instituted a one percent royalty rate to handset vendors who license its LTE patents.
Other probable major patent holders for LTE include Motorola and InterDigital.
Late last year, the IEEE Standards Association also struck a two-year agreement with Via Licensing to create one or more patent pools around some of the group's communications standards.
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