Six WiMAX firms have teamed together to create the Open Patent Alliance, a group that's goal is to jointly license WiMAX patents so they can keep royalty rates in check and make the technology more affordable. The companies involved in the formation of the OPA include Cisco Systems, Intel Corp., Alcatel-Lucent, Clearwire, Sprint and Samsung.
During a Webcast this morning, representatives from each company talked about how the OPA would play a role in making IPR costs predictable so that the WiMAX ecosystem will flourish. Sriram Viswanathan, general manager, WiMAX program office and vice president of Intel Capital said that "it's very important to have predictable costs of IPR and that has not existed in the cell phone market. OPA removes that," Viswanathan said.
Likewise, Barry West, CTO of Sprint Nextel and president of Xohm and the "new" Clearwire, said that Sprint is a big believer in the power of the embedded device model, adding that having a large number of device makers is key to this model. "To encourage this, it's helpful if IPR is easy and predictable. I look foward to working with the OPA and I encourage others to join so we can rapidly spread the growth of WiMAX devices."
However, the OPA members made it clear that companies that join the group don't relinquish their patents. The IPR remains with the owners and they are free to use them. Instead the group will work to make it easier for others to license those patents.
In addition, the OPA referred to itself as a "patent pool" and said that it is very different from the WiMAX Forum, an organization with a goal of promoting interoperability and collaboration among its members.
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