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To accelerate the widespread adoption and deployment of WiMAX technology and products, Alcatel-Lucent, Cisco, Clearwire, Intel Corp., Samsung Electronics and Sprint have announced the formation of the Open Patent Alliance (OPA). The OPA will advance a competitive and open intellectual property rights model, thus stimulating a larger WiMAX industry.

The patent pool will aggregate essential patent rights needed to implement the WiMAX standard as defined by the WiMAX Forum and the IEEE 802.16e standard. To help ensure product differentiation and interoperability at a more predictable cost, this approach will focus on providing a more competitive royalty structure by charging only for the features required to develop WiMAX products. The patent pool will incorporate a variety of royalty licensing solutions, including accounting for cross-licensing among individual members within the pool.

The OPA will issue a call for WiMAX essential patents for inclusion in its patent pool. An independent third-party reviewer will serve as the “patent referee” and will evaluate submitted patents to determine how essential they are to the WiMAX standard and WiMAX Forum profiles. While the OPA initially will focus its efforts on the WiMAX standard, it may work with other industry groups in the future.

Made up of six founding companies at its inception, the OPA expects to secure participation of an additional six to nine investor companies to encompass the WiMAX value-chain and broad geographic representation. Each investor company will have a seat on the OPA board of directors. The OPA will have dedicated staff that is directed by and accountable to the OPA board, and the alliance will serve as the licensing agent for the WiMAX patent pool, representing the licensors who agree to participate in the pool.

In addition to the formation of a WiMAX patent pool, the OPA will educate the WiMAX ecosystem about, and serve as a central resource for WiMAX intellectual property rights topics.

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