OPA looks for broader role in 4G licensing

Caroline Gabriel/Rethink Research
12 Jun 2009

The Open Patent Alliance, set up last year to create an IPR framework for Wimax, will publish its recommended tools, favoring a patent pool approach, "imminently", and hopes to create a blueprint for the whole 4G world.

The Alliance's key priority is to establish a set of tools to make patent licensing open, consistent and transparent, initially in Wimax but potentially, if its methods are proven, also in other technologies.

These tools, which would include a patent pool to work alongside the bilateral deals that are the basis of most cellular licensing, will be announced very soon and the aim will be to demonstrate a real world pool that works and can win industry confidence.

That would then lead to the level of participation to make the pool credible and effective to the industry and the courts, argued Yung Hahn, president of the OPA.

Hahn opened up about the Alliance's hopes of shifting the goalposts for wireless patent licensing - which has been a thorny issue in 2G and 3G - following the news that notebook giant Acer had joined the group in May.

This was significant for bringing support and expertise to the OPA, from the PC ecosystem, which has traditionally had very different IPR norms to that of the cellular world. As the IP-based 4G technologies, Wimax and LTE, will be driven by PC and consumer electronics devices as well as phones, such insights will be important to create an appropriate IPR system.

"We are tickled pink to have Acer join," said Hahn. "We need the PC and CE ecosystems to be well represented because of the diversity of client devices. If 4G were only dependent on phones, it would be different, there is probably no significant problem with phones. But 4G is all about mobile internet devices, and is far more than the phone vendors."


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