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Europe RFID Standards Not 'Ambushed'

The European Commission's investigation of the European Telecommunications Standards Institute is expected to have little impact on UHF RFID standards.
By Jonathan Collins
Jun 22, 2005Earlier this month, the European Commission confirmed reports that it is in the process of investigating the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI). This investigation was prompted by concerns that ETSI rules might enable companies to get their own patented technology surreptitiously included in ETSI standards, leaving firms that adopt the standards open to demands for royalty payments to the patent owner—a practice dubbed "patent ambushing." The European Commission says it is examining ETSI's intellectual property rights (IPR) rules with a view to ensuring that these rules are framed so that patent ambushes can be avoided.

Based in Sophia-Antipolis, France, ETSI brings together 688 members from 55 countries, including manufacturers, network operators and research bodies. It is officially responsible for the standardization of information and communication technologies used in Europe. Although ETSI's purview includes radio frequency identification, the current investigation should have little impact on the development of ongoing UHF RFID standards, according to a top official at the telecommunications standards body.

TG34 Chairman, John Falck
RFID work is primarily carried out at ETSI by Task Group 34 (TG34), part of ETSI's Electromagnetic Compatibility (EMC) and Radio Spectrum Matters (ERM) technical committee. The group's primary aim is to represent the interests of the RFID industry within ETSI for all RFID products and devices. It was TG34 that developed and promoted the adoption of the EN 302-208 standard, which covers technical requirements and methods of measurement for UHF RFID equipment operating in the 865 MHz to 868 MHz band (see New ETSI RFID Rules Move Forward).

TG34's chairman, John Falck, is confident that no such patent ambushing took place while the group was developing EN 302-208. "I don't believe there is any reason for anyone in the RFID community to have any serious concerns at all," Falck says.

Falck maintains that each ETSI meeting is open to all ETSI members, and that before any other work is carried out, participants are told of the necessity to declare any related IP. Members who do not declare relevant IP, says Falck, would jeopardize their ETSI membership at the very least.

"ETSI is working closely with the commission, and the members of our institute, to ensure that our IPR policy remains fair and reasonable," an ETSI spokesman states.
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