Cisco, Intel, Others Launch WiMAX Open Patent Alliance

WiMAX wireless

Major players Alcatel-Lucent, Cisco Systems Inc., Clearwire Corp., Intel Corp., Samsung Electronics and Sprint have joined forces to create the Open Patent Alliance (OPA). The alliance is a calculated move to spur an open and competitive intellectual property rights model, with the goal of stimulating the WiMAX industry.

The OPA is the second multivendor WiMAX announcement in the past two months. In early May, Clearwire Corp., a $14.5 billion company, was formed in hopes of competing with AT&T and Verizon to cover the country in WiMAX. Clearwire consists of Sprint, Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Intel, Google and Bright House Networks.

WiMAX, or Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access, is a telecommunications technology that provides wireless data connectivity over long distances and is based on the IEEE 802.16e standard.

"Cisco supports the Open Patent Alliance and its charter to stimulate further adoption of WiMAX broadband wireless technologies and enhance the mobile experience around the world," Brett Galloway, senior vice president of Cisco wireless and security, said in a statement. "By driving the adoption of WiMAX, innovative technologies will help enable people to move freely throughout the world while maintaining continuous connectivity to cool new applications and services."

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The patent pools will aggregate essential patent rights to implement the WiMAX standard as defined by the WiMAX Forum. Using a patent alliance strategy will help OPA ensure differentiation and interoperability at a predictable cost and will focus on a competitive royalty structure by charging only for features required to develop new products.

An independent third-party reviewer will serve as a referee and evaluate submitted patents to determine their worth, as defined by the WiMAX standard and WiMAX Forum profiles.

"By facilitating an open intellectual property rights model, we expect the alliance to in turn create a more competitive, innovative and broader WiMAX industry that ultimately benefits the consumer with more choice for WiMAX technology and services," Sriram Viswanathan, vice president, Intel Capital, and general manager, Intel WiMAX program office, said in a statement.

In addition to creating new WiMAX products, the OPA plans to help educate vendors and users about WiMAX while also acting as a central resource for intellectual property rights about the topic.