Via Licensing and Sisvel have both announced the launch of multi-generational wireless patent pools bringing their previous 3G and 4G offerings under one umbrella. The new pools are designed to make things simpler for licensees particularly as, thanks to the growth of the Internet of Things (IoT), more and more companies from outside of the mobile space are looking to integrate wireless technology into their products.
The news could also help both pools gain momentum in a wireless sector where historically collaborative licensing platforms have struggled. What's more, with the rollout of 5G expected to begin in earnest this year they offer ready-made platforms for the next generation of mobile technology.
Speaking to the IAM blog Via President Joe Siino commened: “Given the direction of technology in mobile and certain fields like automotive, there’s an increasing need to license multiple standards at the same time and so having a multi-generational option available is very important and that’s only going to increase as 5G rolls out.” As the fifth generation of mobile technology starts to be implemented Via will launch both a standalone pool but also combine the new innovations into its new combined mobile platform.
Sisvel’s move should also help simplify things for the growing band of manufacturers which are including mobile technology in their products. “With the mobile communication program, Sisvel makes the implementation of the enabling technologies simpler, giving implementers yet another level of peace-of-mind,” David Muus, program manager of the new platform commented in the press release Sisvel issued about its launch.
Via’s approach is not to focus specifically on certain industry sectors, but Siino admitted that they were prepared to adapt their offering in different industries - such as “tweaking” pricing for a licence - although he also insisted that “the core pricing” would remain the same regardless of industry. “We don’t believe in limiting licences to particular verticals, nevertheless each vertical has some unique characteristics that need to be taken into account so our multi-generational licences will be available in mobile, in automotive, in IoT and in any place where they’re really relevant,” he stated.
Not explicitly differentiating between separate verticals marks a sharp contrast between Via and Avanci, the IoT licensing platform that was launched in 2016 and licenses 2G, 3G and 4G technology in certain sectors such as auto and smart meters. That platform, which is headed by former Ericsson IP head Kasim Alfalahi, has arguably the strongest collection of mobile patents on offer with Qualcomm, Ericsson and InterDigital all signed up as licensors. The principal difference with Via and others is that Avanci does not license the traditional mobile handset sector, which its patent owners handle separately.
The entrance of Avanci has certainly added an extra competitive element into the licensing market. As it has looked to compete, Via has arguably been the most pro-active platform in making changes to its offering such as altering its pricing structure to attract domestic handset manufacturers in emerging markets such as China and India. Last year it also announced the launch of an LTE patent bank to buy up relevant mobile patents which it can then license as part of its wireless pool.
Siino claimed, however, that he didn’t feel any greater competitive tension. “There has always been a small number of companies offering these types of programmes and that group is still relatively small,” he said. “There are new entrants but I actually think they are there because they’re sensing the same thing that we’re seeing which is a dramatic increase in demand.” If the likes of Via, Sisvel and Avanci can crack the licensing market for wireless technology then that would undoubtedly point to a new coming of age for these kind of platforms.