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RFID Patent Pool Selects Third-Party Administrator

Yesterday the RFID Consortium announced the selection of Via Licensing to administer its patent pool of essential ultrahigh frequency RFID technology. The selection marks the first major, public development from the consortium since it formed more than a year ago.
Tags: Standards
Sep 06, 2006This article was originally published by RFID Update.

September 6, 2006—Yesterday the RFID Consortium announced the selection of Via Licensing to administer its patent pool of essential ultrahigh frequency RFID technology. The selection marks the first major, public development from the consortium since it announced its formation more than a year ago (see RFID Industry Patent Consortium Announced).

San Francisco-based Via Licensing is a company that specializes in the administration of patents pools. According to the website, the company is "in business to provide streamlined access to patents that are necessary to implement foundational technologies on which products are built." The company is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Dolby Laboratories, known most for its audio processing technologies that are incorporated in home electronics, movie theaters, and personal computers. Via Licensing touts Dolby's 35 year experience licensing its technology into these markets as a competitive advantage.

The RFID Consortium's aim is to facilitate easier, more rapid adoption of UHF RFID technology by simplifying the process of intellectual property licensing. The idea is that each company participating in the patent pool will confer to a third party administrator -- the consortium -- the management of its IP licensing, thereby saving the considerable time and resources the company would otherwise have had to invest developing licensing agreements with individual licensees. Similarly, licensees will be spared having to painstakingly approach and negotiate a separate licensing agreement with each IP-holder in turn; they can simply go to the consortium to subscribe to a standard licensing scheme available for all the relevant RFID patents of the participating licensors. This IP-pooling model has enjoyed great success in the DVD and MPEG-2 arenas. (For more on patent pooling, see the FAQ on Via's website.)

When the consortium was announced last August, a handful of leading RFID vendors had signed term sheets to become members, including Alien, AWID, Avery Dennison, Moore Wallace, Symbol, ThingMagic, Tyco, and Zebra. ThingMagic's vice president of marketing Kevin Ashton said, "Working with Via Licensing promises to accelerate our efforts to solicit essential patents holders and ultimately create a patent pool that benefits the RFID industry and patent holders alike."

In administering the patent pool, Via Licensing will work with existing consortium members as well as solicit the participation of other companies that might hold relevant RFID patents. Via Licensing's Tony McQuinn, director of licensing programs and business development, will manage the program. Other notable patent licensing programs the company has developed include IEEE 802.11, which is the dominant international standard for wireless LANs; MPEG-2 advanced audio coding (AAC), which forms the basis of audio coding technology used by satellite radio firm XM; and MPEG-4, which extends and enhances MPEG-2 AAC. Via is also charged with developing and managing the patent pool for near field communications (NFC), which is still under development.

Read the announcement from Via Licensing
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