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London, UK & Frankfurt, Germany 31 August 2011
The NGMN Board has followed the activities on creating patent pools on LTE with high interest since 2010 when NGMN conducted a Request for Information on LTE patent pool administrators. In its recent Board meeting in China, the Board reviewed the on-going activities to launch an LTE patent pool.
The NGMN Board underlined again that patents are an important part of standardised technologies like GSM, UMTS and LTE. Patent pools are the best way to speed up the successful implementation of LTE by giving licensees a safe and efficient way to secure the necessary licenses and have reasonable, as well as predictable, IPR costs. In addition to bilateral licensing, the NGMN Board is convinced that a well-balanced LTE patent pool will be able to embrace the complexity of LTE technology and LTE patents, which will therefore constitute an opportunity for many companies to license their essential patents. Manufacturers would also benefit from a patent pool by gaining the necessary licenses quickly for a reasonable royalty rate, enabling them to develop new and innovative products.
As several licence administrators are still preparing to establish collective licensing arrangements for LTE and trying to match the requests from patent owners, there is an urgent need to act now and progress the decisions as fast as possible in order to prevent fragmentation of LTE collective licensing.
The NGMN Board therefore recommends that all stakeholders in the mobile industry with an interest in developing an effective LTE patent pool accelerate its creation to avoid further delays within LTE licensing. In order to reach the best possible transparency and predictability, the Board of the NGMN Alliance is encouraging all interested parties to agree on one single patent pool that promotes reasonable royalties, offers certainty on the availability of the patents' license and creates a framework for diligent evaluation of their essentiality. Setting royalty rates is not within the mission of the Board of NGMN Alliance.
The patents deemed essential in an LTE patent pool should have their value established by the industry and not solely by any one company. Also, the participants involved in developing the pricing for the LTE patent pool should be sensitive and set a reasonable rate and not seek a premium rate.
“LTE as a technology is progressing fast and the deployment of this technology is rapidly taking place in many regions of the world. Therefore it is in the best interest of many companies in our industry to establish an LTE patent pool as soon as possible,” said Sandro Dionisi, Chairman of the NGMN Board. He continued, “A well-balanced patent pool on LTE will support transparency and predictability on royalty rates for essential patents in LTE technology.”
About the NGMN Alliance
The NGMN Alliance was founded by leading international mobile network operators in 2006. Its goal is to ensure that the standards for next generation network infrastructure, service platforms and devices will meet the requirements of operators and, ultimately, will satisfy end user demand and expectations. The objective of the initial phase of NGMN with working groups on Technology, Spectrum, IPR, Ecosystem, and Trials was to enable the launch of commercial services in 2010. After having successfully reached this milestone, the NGMN Alliance now addresses the challenges of network deployment, operations, and interworking. Furthermore, the NGMN Alliance will drive and guide the development of all future mobile broadband technology enhancements focusing on LTE & EPC and its evolution. The targets of this work programme are supported by the strong and well-established partnership of worldwide leading operators, vendors, universities, and successful co-operations with other industry organisations.