WiMAX Open Patent Alliance  

Cisco, Alcatel-Lucent, Intel, Samsung, Sprint, and Clearwire, plan Monday to announce (webcast) the creation of an organization called the Open Patent Alliance, says C/Net.

OPA will form a WiMAX patent pool to help participating companies obtain access to patent licenses from patent owners at a predictable cost. It’s an effort to prevent costly royalty rates that might deter adoption of the wireless technology.

The Open Patent Alliance will issue a call for WiMAX essential patents for inclusion in its patent pool. An independent third-party reviewer will serve as the “patent referee” and will evaluate submitted patents to determine how essential they are to the WiMAX standard and WiMAX Forum profiles. While the OPA initially will focus its efforts on the WiMAX standard, it may work with other industry groups in the future.

Last year Cisco bought Navini which had developed a beamformed MIMO and smart beamforming approach to Mobile WiMAX.

“We haven’t seen a broad proliferation of cellular technology in anything other than handsets because the model is closely held and restrictive,” said Sriram Viswanathan, general manager for WiMax at Intel Capital. The companies hope to make to bring mobile WiMax to MP3 music players, gaming devices, smartphones, and a plethora of other consumer electronics devices.

However, several well-known WiMAX providers are not on the list, notably Motorola, Qualcomm and Alvarion. Motorola officials have not yet said whether they plan to join the new alliance.

Regardless of the number of vendors who join a patent alliance, “it only takes one patent holder to cause problems for the rest,” said industry analyst Craig Mathias . In any technology with numerous players and patents held by various companies, “there will always be the question of whether somebody is stepping on somebody’s intellectual property,” he said.

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