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Firms form OPA to advance WiMAX

Posted: 12 Jun 2008     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:WiMAX  open patent alliance  IEEE 802.16e standard  WiMAX patent pool 

Alcatel-Lucent, Cisco, Clearwire, Intel Corp., Samsung Electronics and Sprint have formed an Open Patent Alliance (OPA) to speed up the widespread adoption and deployment of WiMAX technology and products.

The alliance will advance a competitive and open intellectual property rights model, stimulating a larger WiMAX industry that supports innovation through broader choice, and lower equipment and service costs for WiMAX technology, devices and applications globally.

To accomplish its goals, the OPA will form a WiMAX patent pool to help participating companies obtain access to patent licences from patent owners at a predictable cost. The patent pool will aggregate essential patent rights needed to implement the WiMAX standard as defined by the WiMAX Forum and the IEEE 802.16e standard. To help ensure product differentiation and interoperability at a more predictable cost, this approach will focus on providing a more competitive royalty structure by charging only for the features required to develop WiMAX products. The patent pool will incorporate a variety of royalty licensing solutions, including accounting for cross-licensing among individual members within the pool.

WiMAX ecosystem
In addition to the formation of a WiMAX patent pool, the OPA will educate the WiMAX ecosystem about, and serve as a central resource for WiMAX intellectual property rights topics.

The OPA will issue a call for WiMAX essential patents for inclusion in its patent pool. An independent third-party reviewer will serve as the "patent referee" and will evaluate submitted patents to determine how essential they are to the WiMAX standard and WiMAX Forum profiles. While the OPA initially will focus its efforts on the WiMAX standard, it may work with other industry groups in the future.

Made up of six founding companies at its inception, the OPA expects to secure participation of an additional six to nine investor companies to encompass the WiMAX value-chain and broad geographic representation. Each investor company will have a seat on the OPA board of directors. The OPA will have dedicated staff that is directed by and accountable to the OPA board, and the alliance will serve as the licensing agent for the WiMAX patent pool, representing the licencors who agree to participate in the pool.

"Intel's vision in driving the formation of the Open Patent Alliance is to bring the openness of the Internet and computing industries to the wireless industry and WiMAX" said Sriram Viswanathan, VP, Intel Capital and general manager, Intel WiMAX program office. "By facilitating an open intellectual property rights model, we expect the alliance to in turn create a more competitive, innovative and broader WiMAX industry that ultimately benefits the consumer with more choice for WiMAX technology and services."

"We believe that this initiation can be a significant momentum to expand mobile WiMAX services," said Hwan Chung, senior vice president of Samsung Telecommunications America. "Thanks to a flexible and easily adoptable scheme for participants, we can accelerate the mobile WiMAX deployment and marketing so that people can enjoy the benefits of fast, revolutionarily new, and more cost-effective data communications."





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