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Intermec Announces New Licensing Program

Intermec yesterday announced the RFID Rapid Start Licensing Program aimed at making the license of its patent portfolio temporarily simpler and more affordable.
May 05, 2005This article was originally published by RFID Update.

May 5, 2005—A key development in the area of RFID intellectual property came yesterday as Everett, Washington-based Intermec announced the RFID Rapid Start Licensing Program aimed at making the license of its patent portfolio temporarily simpler and more affordable. The 90-day program begins June 1st and concludes August 31st. During that time, companies eager to develop products that rely on any of Intermec's 145 patents related to RFID will have the opportunity to do so for one initial fee plus royalty fees in the range of 2.5 to 7.5 percent. The patents, some of which the company asserts are fundamental to RFID technology, will be categorized into four portfolio families which interested companies will execute a licensing agreement to use. After August 31st, Intermec will license its patents on an individual basis and "at less favorable rates and terms."

One motivation for the program was to streamline the protracted process wherein Intermec had to negotiate individually with every company interested in licensing the IP. Vice President and General Manager Mike Wills made the following statement: "Intermec’s Rapid Start Licensing Program offers substantial benefits and minimizes cross-licensing negotiation delays so our partners can rapidly design and bring their products to market without concerns about IP infringement." Another motivation, it would seem, was to create a sense of urgency among those who planned to license from Intermec but were being slow about it. The program, in its simplest form, seems to say "Intermec IP on sale for a limited time only."

The announcement was made amid a worsening legal situation with archrival Symbol Technologies, who last week filed a second suit against Intermec for patent infringement relating to bar code technology. That suit follows a tit-for-tat round of suing and counter-suing between Intermec and Symbol that stems largely from Intermec's intent to charge royalty fees for use of its RFID intellectual property. Symbol and others have loudly denounced Intermec for its intentions, claiming that such royalties would essentially amount to a tax that stunts the growth of the industry at a crucial and precarious juncture. Intermec as well as many experts argue that it is reasonable and indeed expected that a company would seek to capitalize on intellectual property in which it has invested significant resources. Since the initial announcement in the middle of 2004, the company has been steadfast in its pursuit of this strategy. Even in yesterday's announcement, Intermec President Tom Miller is quoted as saying, "We respect the years and resources invested in our intellectual property portfolio and will take the necessary steps to protect it from use by unlicensed technology vendors."

Fundamentally, the new RFID Rapid Start Licensing Program suggests that Intermec wants the industry to develop as quickly as everyone else, and it is using its unique IP portfolio to spur that development while also earning handsomely from it.

Read the announcement from Intermec
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