Consortium Pools RFID Patents

Twenty vendors working with RFID have formed an intellectual-property licensing consortium to simplify management of and access to RFID patents.
Radio-frequency identification technology adoption soon may get a boost. Twenty vendors working with RFID disclosed on Tuesday their intention to form an intellectual-property licensing consortium intended to simplify management of and access to RFID patents for manufacturers and users.

Analysts welcomed the move. Creating the group sends a message to the industry, ABI Research analyst Erik Michielsen wrote in a research note on the consortium. There is "a clear migration path for scalable, long-term EPC Gen2, and that should extinguish users' concerns about RFID intellectual property," he wrote.

Founding members include Alien Technology, Applied Wireless Identification Group, Avery Dennison, Moore Wallace, Symbol Technologies, ThingMagic, Tyco Fire & Security, and Zebra Technologies. Notably absent from the group is Intermec Technologies Corp., one of the largest holders of RFID intellectual-property licenses.

Intermec has been holding its ground, battling others to keep control of its licensing on several core patents. "Regardless of how Intermec's [intellectual-property] issues are resolved," dozens of other intellectual-property holders in the market are looking to profit from EPC Gen2 licensing, Michielsen wrote. "They spent large amounts of money on R&D, and they want to be rewarded for that investment."

The consortium is modeled on successful structures and practices of existing industry groups that license MPEG and DVD technology. It will license patents essential to the manufacture and operation of RFID chips, tags or labels, and readers, and all essential intellectual property owned by members will become available per license on fair, reasonable, and nondiscriminatory terms.