Via Licensing promises LTE patent pool launch within months

Via Licensing said it plans to launch an LTE patent pool within the next few months that will include patents from as many as 20 members, including AT&T (NYSE:T), according to a report from EE Times.

"We have manufacturers, carriers and others from around the world participating" in the new LTE pool, Roger Ross, president of Via, told EE Times. However, Ross declined to say which companies are in the pool and what patents they own.

Via is one of a number of entities that have pitched an LTE patent pool during the past few years. The Open Patent Alliance, MPEG LA and Sisvel have all voiced their intentions to create a pool of LTE patents that would smooth the technology's licensing process and potentially allow companies to build LTE devices more quickly. Similar pooling schemes have been formed around the AAC, MPEG-2 and MPEG-4 standards.

Though patent pooling in the wireless industry has long been a topic of discussion, little progress has been made. The WCDMA Patent Licensing Program patent pool, administered by the United Kingdom's 3G Licensing, launched in 2004 but, according to some assessments, only covers 10 percent of the necessary patents. A similar pool around WiMAX technology and administered by Via appears to have fizzled.

The main catch has been heavyweights like Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM), Ericsson (NASDAQ:ERIC) and Nokia (NYSE:NOK), which have steadfastly refused to join in patent pools, preferring instead to license their patents on an individual basis. Indeed, according to EE Times, Nokia pulled out of Sisvel's LTE patent pool efforts and said it will not participate in Via's patent pool. Research In Motion (NASDAQ:RIMM) said it has not decided whether it will join the Via pool.

It's no surprise that patents and patent pooling remain a contentious area. A group of companies including Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) and Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) purchased bankrupt Nortel Networks' patent portfolio for a whopping $4.5 billion. And Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) said it purchased Motorola Mobility for $12.5 billion largely as a way to protect its Android licensees with Motorola's patents. Moreover, Apple, HTC, Samsung and a wide range of other companies remain embroiled in patent-infringement litigation.

For more:
- see this EE Times article

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