WiMAX new target of patent enforcement
As reported earlier here on IP Inferno, Canadian company Wi-Lan has decided to enforce its collection of patents. Unstrung reported that Wi-Lan...
...has filed a letter of assurance with the IEEE Standards Association (IEEE-SA) for the patents and patent applications recently acquired from Ensemble Communications Inc. ...Wi-LAN believes the infringement of these patents is unavoidable in any implementation of the IEEE 802.16 WirelessMAN Standard.In this letter, Wi-Lan asserts that they will license these patents under RAND (reasonable and non-discriminatory) terms.
Many express concern when companies step forward with such licensing requests. Mike Masnick, writing at TechDirt says that despite the promise of RAND terms, the move "...still is likely to make WiMAX much more expensive."
Without patent protection, and the promise of licensing fees, what motivation would companies have for investing in new technologies? The industry must make a choice at the outset of a standards process -- insist that companies contribute the underlying patents to the community with no licensing fees required, or insist that companies practice RAND licensing practices. To complain about Wi-Lan after the fact places blame in the wrong place.
Next up -- expect a battle over the 18 patents covering proxy servers!