London, January 9, 2003. -- 3G Patents today announced the start of commercial 3G Patent Platform services for evaluating, certifying, and licensing, patents that are technologically essential for the manufacture and operation of third generation (3G) mobile communication systems. 3G Patents is now accepting applications to undertake essentiality evaluations of patents that may be technologically essential.
The evaluation will be conducted in accordance with a precise industry-defined evaluation and certification process which has been harmonised internationally in all major market countries. Following completion of the evaluation process for a particular patent, 3G Patents will award a Certificate of Essentiality if the patent has been found to be technologically essential.
Licensing of the certified essential patents will follow once there is a reasonable portfolio of certified essential patents. Since the essentiality evaluation takes some time, several months are required from the filing of an essentiality patent application to issuance of a Certificate of Essentiality. The licensing terms and conditions will be set by the respective licensors within a legal entity to be established (a "Platform Company") and the exact royalty terms for a particular radio interface technology will be published in the near future.
One of 3G Patents' key objectives is to identify, using an industry defined and accepted independent evaluation and certification process, and with a very high degree of credibility within the industry, those patents that are truly technologically essential for the manufacture of 3G products such as terminals and base stations. 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 indeed technologically essential. The outcome of an essentiality evaluation, to be undertaken by an Evaluation Panel comprising three patent attorneys, will be based on technological and legal considerations.
Licensing through the 3G Patent Platform will regularize and make certain the royalty levels payable on specific 3G products. These effects will stimulate early introduction of products and technical innovation, and will therefore bring benefits to both licensors and licensees. Benefits will be gained internationally, in both the developed and developing countries, through greater certainty, reduced levels of initial capital investment, and more cost-effective terminals. "The start of these innovative patent evaluation, certification and licensing services should be regarded as a positive step in making 3G standardised terminals and infrastructure equipment more affordable not only in the major developed countries and regions but also the early roll-out should be enhanced in some of the less developed countries", said Yoshio Utsumi, ITU Secretary-General. "This collective industry initiative will make possible the early provision of advanced cost-effective multi-media mobile services in developing countries will certainly help the world communicate". And as stated by Charles James, Assistant Attorney General and head of the Antitrust Division of the United States Department of Justice, "The creation of patent Platforms for third generation wireless telecommunications technologies can achieve substantial efficiencies in identifying essential patents, reducing hold-up problems that can occur in negotiations with individual licensors, and aiding in the rapid introduction of 3G wireless services".
The 3G Patent Platform services have been approved by the major antitrust regulatory authorities, including the Japanese Fair Trade Commission in June 2002, and both the European Commission and the U.S. Department of Justice Antitrust Division in November 2002. These approvals were predicated on the maintenance of competition among the various radio interfaces through a separate managing body for each interface, and the direction of each such body by licensors active in that technology. "Separate patent Platforms governed by licensors for each 3G technology will help to ensure that the Platform arrangements do not limit competition among substitutable 3G technologies, or create an opportunity for collusion among licensees of any 3G technology", commented Antitrust Division head Mr. James. The positive antitrust approvals from Tokyo, Brussels, and Washington, clear the way for the establishment of a Platform for each of the five radio interface standards adopted by the ITU IMT-2000 for 3G mobile communication systems. In the near future, an announcement will be made concerning the incorporation of the first "Platform Company" responsible for the governance of the licensing terms and conditions for the W-CDMA radio interface technology.
About the 3G Patent Platform and 3G Patents
The 3G Patent Platform 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), during the period February, 1998, to April, 2002. More than fifty leading wireless companies were involved in this overall process. The definition, function, structure, operation and governance of the 3G Patent Platform is fully described in the "Platform specification" which may be obtained at http://www.3Gpatents.com/3gplatform.htm
3G Patents Limited is a new company registered and incorporated in England established specifically to provide common services to the "Platform Companies" such as patent evaluation and certification, education of third parties about the 3G Patent Platform, and industry-wide market research & analysis to seek additional revenue sources of licensing income for licensors irrespective of the specific radio interface technology. 3G Patents will be an industry-governed company under the direction of an international Board of Directors elected by the membership; the Directors of the founding Board come from major mobile companies. Membership of 3G Patents is open and voluntary to all concerned economic players in the mobile industry and a modest annual membership fee has been set to attract as many entities as possible.