MANHASSET, N.Y. Texas Instruments Inc. announced plans Monday (Dec. 8) to offer royalty-free licenses for any patents it holds within the Multiband-OFDM Alliance's (MBOA) ultrawideband proposal should the proposal be ratified by the IEEE 802.15.3a task group working on a high-speed, short-range wireless physical layer.
The announcement removes a cloud that has hung over the proposal, and is expected to be followed in quick succession by similar announcements from other patent-holding members of the Alliance.
The patent licensing issue came to the fore as the IEEE group met formally for the first time in July to discuss its options for that standard. In late October, XtremeSpectrum Inc., now the UWB operations division of Motorola Inc., and the competing proposal for the .15.3a standard filed a RAND-Z (reasonable and non-discriminatory-zero) statement with the IEEE. While M otorola has agreed to honor the statement with the purchase of XSI, it has declined to comment on what, if any, intellectual property it holds within the direct-sequence UWB proposal until spinning off its SPS group.
Until now, according to MBOA spokespersons, the group has been striving to complete a similar RAND-Z statement, but has been hampered by the sheer logistics of achieving consensus from its 34 members.
However, according to Mark Bowles, director of marketing for Staccato Communications Inc. (San Diego), all major contributors to the MBOA proposal have filed a RAND-Z statement with the IEEE. "Staccato, TI, Wisair, Alereon and Intel have the majority of all IP relevant to the current MBOA proposal and have filed RAND-Z," said Bowles. "Other MBOA members may hold IP now or in the future and they too may file RAND-Z at some point."
According to Bowles, the filing by the five companies addresses the concerns of IEEE members opposed to the MBOA proposal.