SoftBank acquires 200 HAPS patents from Loon

Loon balloon
SoftBank and HAPSMobile said they’ll use the patents to accelerate their work toward commercial HAPS services. (Loon)

SoftBank acquired about 200 patents, including patents pending, for High Altitude Platform Stations (HAPS) from Alphabet Loon after the wind-down of Loon earlier this year. Terms were not disclosed.

Separately, Loon today announced that it’s making its stratospheric wind and weather measurements, as well as electrical measurements, publicly available. Some patents will go to Raven, a company Loon worked with on balloon development, and about 270 related patents and applications are being donated for free.

With these latest patents, SoftBank and its HAPSMobile subsidiary collectively will own about 500 HAPS-related patents. The patents are related to network technologies, services, operations and aircraft for HAPS.

SoftBank’s HAPSMobile and Loon have a history of working together. In 2019, Softbank announced it was investing $125 million in Alphabet as the two companies formed a strategic partnership to advance high-altitude connectivity. Both companies were in the business of trying to find ways to deliver internet services to remote areas using high altitude vehicles.

RELATED: Alphabet’s Loon partners with Softbank’s HAPSMobile for stratospheric connectivity

Both Softbank and Loon were founding members of the HAPS Alliance in February 2020 and jointly completed development of a communications payload. A year ago, that payload was used to deliver LTE connectivity from HAPSMobile’s “Sunglider” solar-powered unmanned aircraft system during its first stratospheric test flight. That was a first for a fixed-wing autonomous aircraft.

As part of the HAPS Alliance, SoftBank and HAPSMobile expect to use their HAPS IP portfolio to promote standardization and interoperability in the HAPS industry.

As of September 30, 2021, the number of HAPS Alliance members is 44.