3G Patents, a new UK-based company, has been established to oversee and license patents that are ‘technically essential’ for the manufacture and operation of 3G mobile communication systems.
To do so, the company plans to establishment a series of ‘Patent Platforms’ for each of the five radio interface standards adopted by the ITU IMT-2000 for 3G mobile communication systems. The first ‘Platform Company’ will be responsible for the governance of the licensing terms and conditions for the W-CDMA radio interface technology.
The 3G ‘Patent Platform’ idea itself was defined within the UMTS Intellectual Property Rights Working Group (UMTS IPR WG), the UMTS Intellectual Property Association (UIPA) and the 3G Patent Platform Partnership (3G3P), between February 1998 and April 2002. More than fifty leading wireless companies were involved in the overall process.
To get the ball rolling, 3G Patents is accepting applications from companies so that it can undertake evaluations of patents relevant to 3G. Following the completion of the evaluation process for a particular patent, 3G Patents will then award a ‘Certificate of Essentiality’ if the patent has been found to be technologically essential. Since the evaluation process takes some time, however, several months are required from the filing of an essentiality patent application to issuance of a Certificate of Essentiality. Licensing of the certified essential patents will then follow.
The evaluation and certification process will be conducted by a network of approved patent law firms and approved patent attorneys from Europe, North America, Japan, South Korea and China. Thus, licensees may take patent licenses in the knowledge that the patents are ‘technologically essential’ to the development of 3G systems.
The licensing terms and conditions for the use of the patent will be set by the respective licensors; the exact royalty terms for a particular radio interface technology will be published by 3G patents in the near future.
The 3G Patent ‘Platform’ services were approved by the major antitrust regulatory authorities, including the Japanese Fair Trade Commission in June 2002, and both the European Commission and the US Department of Justice Antitrust Division in November 2002.
The definition, function, structure, operation and governance of the 3G Patent Platform is fully described in the ‘Platform specification’ which may be obtained at: