Ericsson, Qualcomm, Sony, Others Sign on With DFW Licensing Platform From Former Ericsson CIPO

Ericsson’s former chief intellectual property officer is hoping his new platform for licensing patented technology related to the Internet of Things will catch on with innovators diving into the area.

Kasim Alfalahi has already lured big-name patent-holders to the platform, named Avanci. Ericsson, Qualcomm, InterDigital, KPN and ZTE have all signed on. Thursday, Avanci added Sony to the mix.

Ericsson announced in February that it would spin out the new independent platform with Alfalahi, who served as Ericsson’s CIPO for 5 years, at the helm. Avanci makes it easier on IoT inventors looking to cease cellular technology to connect their inventions.

An exponentially growing number of things and devices will be connected and communicating to each other in the coming years as the Internet of Things expands. Some of the products will use 2G, 3G and 4G networks to gain connectivity.

Ericsson and Qualcomm are among the leaders in the technology that makes such connections possible. But Alfalahi says the tech generally spreads across several patents, which can make licensing a nightmare. Manufacturers have been left to negotiate with several companies to license patented tech for their own products.

Alfalahi’s platform centralizes the process. Inventors decide what tech they need and license it through Avanci for a flat rate per unit. Then, Avanci splits up the fee and pays companies that own patents the particular technology touches, keeping a cut of the revenue for itself.

The flat rate will change depending on the product in which it’s used.

“The value of connectivity in a smart meter or a trash can is different from the value of connectivity in a car,” Alfalahi told the Dallas Business Journal.

Alfalahi said he has high hopes to add more companies to the fold – and that it’s been a warm reception thus far. Upon its launch this week, Ericsson and Qualcomm put out statements in support of the platform.

“Avanci’s licensing platform enables the adoption of our essential wireless technology among IoT device manufacturers, accelerates the development of the Internet of Things and the global uptake of LTE for IoT,” said Gustav Brismark, chief intellectual property officer at Ericsson.

New IoT platform off to a good start but deals will ultimately determine success

The news yesterday that five major patent owning companies have signed up to the new Internet of Things (IoT) licensing platform Avanci, represents the first industry attempt to ensure that the expected explosion in connected devices doesn’t result in the kind of stand-offs and costly court battles we saw in the smartphone wars.

In many ways, Avanci is taking a well-established concept – a patent pool – and applying it to the IoT. But, in contrast to pools like MPEG LA, Avanci will be making standard essential patents (SEPs) that read on 2G, 3G and 4G technologies available for licensing in specific sectors or use cases, starting with connected vehicles and smart meters.

The five companies that have signed up so far – Ericsson, InterDigital, KPN, Qualcomm and ZTE – represent some of the largest SEP patent owners in the cellular space. Plus, in former Ericsson CIPO Kasim Alfalahi, Avanci has a CEO drawn from the small pool of IP executives that can both recruit such a list of businesses and convince device manufacturers, in sufficient numbers, to take a licence. In other word’s Avanci’s prospects look pretty good.

“The platform creates accessibility and simplicity,” explained Alex Rogers, head of Qualcomm Technology Licensing. “One of the things that we’ve been hearing is that as new industries become interested in making new products with cellular connections, they understand that there are a certain number of rights holders that have important essential patent portfolios and so the question for companies like that, who have never been involved in cellular, is how do I engage in this licensing process? This platform provides simplicity and efficiency for them.”

But this is patent licensing and SEP licensing to boot, so while the news of Avanci’s launch might be welcomed as a relatively simple approach to paying for relevant IP, things may not be quite as straightforward as Qualcomm et al hope. Here are the IAM blog’s takeaways from yesterday’s announcement.

Will the price be right?

In the release announcing the launch of the new platform, Avanci declared that: “Companies can expect a transparent, flat-rate price for each device that will vary based on the value the technology brings to the device.” In an interview Alfalahi stressed that the pricing will be based on FRAND terms and that the rates will be made public.

But as Alfalahi is fully aware, SEP licensing in parts of the tech space has seen some marked disagreements between licensors and licensees on just how much a licence is worth. There remains, for instance, a clear stand off between Qualcomm, Ericsson, InterDigital and several other companies over a new policy introduced by the IEEE, which has changed the terms on which some SEPs relating to standards administered by the IEEE, such as its popular 802.11 wifi standard, should be licensed. Avanci might look to simplify the licensing process but if the pricing isn’t right then it will struggle to get the volume of licensees that it needs.

Not surprisingly, Alfalahi was bullish when asked how confident he was that he and his team would be able to agree on a pricing structure that satisfied patent owners and device manufacturers. “We’re talking to both and we’re spending a lot of time thinking together with them and listening very carefully to both sides. We know very well that the only way that this will work is that we find a comfort zone for everyone involved – that the price is something that will encourage more companies to have connectivity in their products.”

The aim, he underlined, was that by making pricing predictable, licensees would not have to worry about haggling over a deal and fretting over whether they had paid the right amount. Clearly conscious of some of the ongoing arguments over SEPs and the IEEE’s new policy, Ericsson CIPO Gustav Brismark, was quick to counter any misconceptions over how the price of a license might be calculated. “It is not the case that patent owners want a percentage of the price of a Ferrari. The price will be based on the use case and the value that a technology brings to a product.”

Perhaps one of the biggest challenges that Avanci faces is that the IoT and the forces of convergence behind it mean that royalty-based patent licensing is about to become a cost of doing business to a much larger universe of companies, many of which may have had little or no experience of SEPs. That’s not to say that they won’t pay up, but it may just take them a little longer to fully appreciate the benefits of taking a licence from Avanci.

Who’s not on the list?

While the first five companies to sign up represent a good start – Ericsson and Qualcomm between them have among the largest and highest quality cellular patent portfolios in the business – this is by no means an exhaustive list of players in the space. Alfalahi stressed that Avanci was in talks with more companies and so we can expect some new joiners in the coming months. But who’s missing?

Perhaps most glaringly Nokia is not part of the launch. That could be because of the recent changes at the Finnish tech giant which saw Nokia Technologies head Ramzi Haidamus step down, somewhat abruptly, on 1st September. He was responsible for the company’s patent licensing business and so it’s possible that the decision on whether to join Avanci will be left to his successor. With Nokia having just bought Alcatel Lucent in a deal which greatly enlarges its patent portfolio, getting it on board would add significantly to Avanci’s appeal as an IoT licensing one-stop-shop.

Others missing from the major owners of 2G, 3G and 4G SEPs are the Japanese giants NTT DoCoMo and NEC. There’s also ZTE’s Chinese rival Huawei and Samsung which as patent owner and device manufacturer sits on both sides of the licensing table. And finally, there’s the matter of the old Motorola portfolio, much of which has been retained by Google although some did transfer to Lenovo when the search giant sold most of the legacy Motorola Mobility business.

China on board

It’s notable that in ZTE, one of China’s leading tech players has thrown its support behind Avanci. Not only does the company have a cellular portfolio that places it among the world’s leaders but it is also one of the new breed of Chinese multinational tech players. That should significantly help the new platform license the country’s IoT companies. China has proved tricky territory for some leading patent owners, including Qualcomm. It surely makes it easier for Avanci that rather than a bunch of Western companies demanding licensing dues from local manufacturers, ZTE will be one of the businesses receiving a return on their technology.

The right kind of leadership

For all the questions that remain to be answered around Avanci, and all the licensing deals to be done, there’s no doubt that the launch confirmed Kasim Alfalahi’s status as one of the shrewdest operators in the licensing business. That was perhaps to be expected given that as Ericsson’s IP head he had grown the company’s licensing arm into a $1 billion operation and had helped elevate the CIPO position reporting directly to the CEO. Alfalahi has a reputation as a consummate dealmaker and to get from a standing start in February to yesterday’s launch in just six months shows that the Swede has a contact book to die for and an ability to get things done. His ongoing role is key and not only as a recruiter and dealmaker. As Avanci’s membership increases, anti-trust considerations could come to the fore, particularly in places like South Korea and China where regulators have shown a willingness to get tough with licensors on competition grounds. It will be Alfalahi’s job to demonstrate in word and deed that he is acting independently of the patent owners whose assets he is offering for license.

Tech Giants Back IoT Licensing Platform

Ericsson, Qualcomm and ZTE are among the backers of a “one-stop licensing platform” targeting IoT device makers.

Run by Avanci, a company founded this year by former Ericsson executive Kasim Alfalahi, it will see the three vendors, along with KPN and InterDigital, offer patents through a single licence on fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory terms.

“Companies can expect a transparent flat rate price for each device that will vary based on the value the technology brings to the devices,” it said.

The initial focus will be on 2G, 3G and 4G technologies for connected cars and smart metres, before expanding to other IoT product areas.

The company said the new, open platform will also accelerate the process of securing technology rights and time to market for IoT.

Companies that are seeking to add connectivity to their products, and players with a portfolio of standard essential wireless patents to share can join the marketplace.

Alfalahi said since beginning in April, Avanci received a warm reception from both IoT device manufacturers and patent owners, and expects to add more companies to the platform in the months ahead.

“With Avanci, something that would require time and resources to negotiate with many technology holders can now be done in one place, with one licence,” he said.

Ericsson, Qualcomm Join Avanci to Offer One-Stop Shop for IoT Patent Licenses

A new platform for patent licenses is aiming to make the lives of Internet of Things (IoT) device makers a little bit easier.

Avanci, a newly formed company headed by former Ericsson Chief Intellectual Property Officer Kasim Alfalahi, on Wednesday announced the launch of a new one-stop platform that will grant manufacturers a single license for standard-essential patents from several major technology companies. Avanci said licenses will be offered with a flat-rate price per device that will vary based on the technology used.

According to the release, companies contributing patents include telecommunications giants Ercisson and Qualcomm, as well as ZTE, KPN and InterDigital. The Avanci licenses grant access to all of the existing standard-essential cellular patents in the participating companies’ portfolios as well as any additional patents that are developed during the license term.

“The number of companies incorporating connectivity in their business models is rapidly increasing,” current Ericsson Chief Intellectual Property Officer Gustav Brismark said. “By having efficient access to essential wireless technology and leveraging the global network, these companies can reduce time to market and reach scale faster. Avanci’s licensing platform enables the adoption of our essential wireless technology among IoT device manufacturers, accelerates the development of the Internet of Things and the global uptake of LTE for IoT.”

Avanci said it will initially offer 2G, 3G and 4G cellular technologies for smart meters and connected cars, but will expand to include other IoT areas soon.

Avanci said the goal of its new platform is to accelerate the process of securing technology rights and time to market for IoT devices.

Qualcomm Joins Patent Licensing Clearinghouse

A new company will handle license agreements for technology developed at Qualcomm Inc.

Dallas-based Avanci has opened up with the intention of becoming a one-stop shop for companies that want to produce internet-connected products — in other words, machines and objects that will become part of what futurists call the Internet of Things.

Avanci said it will license the communications technology from several other businesses, including Ericsson, InterDigital, KPN and ZTE.

“For the many manufacturers entering the IoT space, it can be cumbersome to determine which patent licenses are needed to enable connectivity and what is a fair price,” Avanci said in a statement.

Avanci promises to streamline the licensing process by offering a single license to patents owned by many companies on fair, reasonable and nondiscriminatory terms. (Members of the patent law community refer to the latter as FRAND.)

“Companies can expect a transparent, flat-rate price for each device that will vary based on the value the technology brings to the device,” Avanci said in its statement issued Sept. 14.

Avanci opened in April. Kasim Alfalahi is its founder and CEO. The clearinghouse will initially focus its licensing efforts on 2G, 3G and 4G cellular technologies for connected cars and smart meters, then expand to other markets.

Shares of Qualcomm trade on the Nasdaq as QCOM.

Avanci Announces Sony as a New Patent Owner in its Licensing Platform

DALLAS, TEXAS- Just one day following its launch, new patent licensing platform Avanci welcomes Sony as a licensor. Joining other wireless standard-essential patent holders like Ericsson, Qualcomm, InterDigital, KPN and ZTE, the consumer electronics company has made its patents available through the innovative platform for IoT devices.

By adding all of Sony’s 2G, 3G, and 4G standard-essential patents, Avanci significantly widens its license offering. As it continues to grow, Avanci’s IoT platform will streamline the licensing process for both manufacturers and licensor’s, providing predictability, simplicity and reduced transaction costs for all involved.

About Avanci
Avanci has a vision that sharing technology, on a broad scale for the Internet of Things industry, can be simpler. Our connected world is evolving quickly – and we want to help it all happen even faster. Our one-stop solution keeps the success of the ecosystem squarely in sight, bringing convenience and predictability to the technology licensing process. In our new marketplace, those with essential patents can share their innovations, and companies creating connected products for the Internet of Things can access the patented wireless technology they need to be successful – in one place, with one agreement and for one fair, flat rate. Founded in 2016, Avanci is headquartered in Dallas. For more information about Avanci, please visit http://www.avanci.com.

PRESS CONTACT:
Sophie Skaggs
Director of Marketing & Communications
469-235-4619
media@avanci.com

Avanci Launches One-Stop Licensing Platform to Accelerate Wireless Connectivity for the Internet of Things

DALLAS, TX – Today, Avanci launches the first market place for licensing patented wireless technology to the Internet of Things (IoT). Avanci is bringing together standard – essential wireless patents from industry leaders, making them available with a single license to IoT device manufacturers who are adding connectivity to their products.

With billions of connected devices coming online each year, the Internet of Things is enabling an entirely new economy of products. For the many manufacturers entering the IoT space, it can be cumbersome to determine which patent licenses are needed to enable connectivity and what is a fair price. Avanci streamlines this process by offering a single license to patents owned by many companies on fair, reasonable, and non – discriminatory (FRAND) terms. Companies can expect at transparent, flat – rate price for each device that will vary based on the value the technology brings to the device.

“Since we began in April, we have received an overwhelmingly positive response from both IoT device manufacturers and patent owners to our streamlined licensing solution, and Avanci will quickly add more of these companies to our marketplace in the months ahead,” said Kasim Alfalahi, founder and chief executive officer of Avanci. “With Avanci, something that would require time and resources to negotiate with many technology holders can now be done in one place, with one license, allowing IoT manufacturing companies access to the most advanced wireless technology in the world while they focus on bringing new products to the market.”

This new, open platform accelerates the process of securing technology rights and time to market for IoT devices that are connecting our world like never before. Companies seeking to add connectivity to their new products and companies with a portfolio of standard – essential wireless patents to share can join the new marketplace.

Avanci will initially focus its licensing efforts on 2G, 3G and 4G cellular technologies for connected cars and smart meters with plans to quickly expand to other IoT product areas. The Avanci license for the IoT industry provides access to the entire standard – essential cellular patent portfolio these innovators, including Ericsson, Qualcomm, InterDigital, KPN and ZTE, own today, as well as any such patents that they may develop or acquire during the term of the license.

“The number of companies incorporating connectivity in their business models is rapidly increasing. By having efficient access to essential wireless technology and leveraging the global network,these companies can reduce time to market and reach scale faster,” said Gustav Brismark, Chief Intellectual Property Officer at Ericsson. “Avanci’s licensing platform enables the adoption of our essential wireless technology among IoT device manufacturers, accelerates the development of the Internet of Things and the global uptake of LTE for IoT.”

“At Qualcomm, we have been expanding our wireless technology beyond mobile into new industries in the world of Internet of Things. Our technology solutions are helping IoT providers across market segments – from homes to cars, cities and wearables – redefine what’s possible,” said Alex Rogers, president of Qualcomm Technology Licensing. “We are pleased to share our cellular patented technology through Avanci to streamline essential patent licensing for certain IoT applications and accelerate growth for the IoT industry.”

About Avanci
Avanci has a vision that sharing technology, on a broad scale for the Internet of Things industry, can be simpler. Our connected world is evolving quickly – and we want to help it all happen even faster. Our one-stop solution keeps the success of the ecosystem squarely in sight, bringing convenience and predictability to the technology licensing process. In our new marketplace, those with essential patents can share their innovations, and companies creating connected products for the Internet of Things can access the patented wireless technology they need to be successful – in one place, with one agreement and for one fair, flat rate. Founded in 2016, Avanci is headquartered in Dallas. For more information about Avanci, please visit http://www.avanci.com.

“ZTE is excited to see the implementation of wireless technology outside the traditional communications industry. With more than a decade of technology contribution, we believe a healthy circle of innovation of new IoT connected devices and investment in future technologies is the best way to fuel more innovation within the ecosystem” said CIPO Spencer SHEN, ZTE. “We are encouraged by Avanci’s unique approach to licensing connectivity and the role it will play in driving the IoT industry.”

Avanci Contact:
Sophie Skaggs
Director of Marketing & Communications
214-765-9515
media@avanci.com

Qualcomm Follows Ericsson’s Lead in Joint Patent Licensing

Five big holders of cellular patents, including Qualcomm Inc., are joining an effort proposed by Ericsson AB to jointly license patents in an emerging field called the Internet of Things.

The patent holders announced Wednesday that they have become the initial patent contributors to Avanci, a company recently established to serve as a one-stop source to license rights to a broad set of patents covering wireless technology. The participants plan to share revenue from licensing deals.

Avanci plans initially to focus on patents for connected cars and smart meters, but hopes eventually to expand to many other devices that are likely to use cellular networks to communicate.

The other initial patent contributors besides Qualcomm and Sweden’s Ericsson are China’s ZTE Corp. ZTCOY -0.84% , Dutch telecom company Royal KPN KKPNY 1.12% NV and InterDigital Inc., IDCC -0.87% a Delaware-based wireless technology company.

Ericsson, a major supplier of cellular equipment, has been making the case for a year that new licensing practices would be required in the emerging field known as the IoT. Gustav Brismark, the company’s chief intellectual property officer, said companies in fields such as developing connected cars were reluctant to accept the kinds of license terms common in the cellphone industry.

One worry was that patent holders might charge royalties based on a percentage of the total price of a final product, as Qualcomm does with handsets—not a reasonable practice when the product is something as expensive as a car, said Alex Rogers, senior vice president and general manager, of Qualcomm’s technology licensing business.

He said Qualcomm now bases royalty rates for connected cars on the cost of smaller wireless subsystems, not the car price. “There has been some confusion and concern,” Mr. Rogers said, expressing hopes that the collective licensing effort would address the issue.

Avanci, an independent company led by a former Ericsson executive, plans to charge a flat fee per unit each licensee sells. The company hasn’t disclosed its pricing yet, but says the fees will reflect the value of the licensed technology to the application. For example, the fee would be higher for a car that is in constant communications than a smart meter than sends a short message once a month, Mr. Brismark said.

Kasim Alfalahi, the former Ericsson executive who is Avanci’s founder and chief executive, said it is in discussions with other patent holders about joining the offer. “The platform is open to any company with patents that are essential for cellular,” he said.

Collective patent licensing isn’t a new concept. But it is a departure from ordinary procedures in the world of cellular gear, where most of the big patent holders negotiate directly with makers of smartphones and other equipment.

It can be a very lucrative business. Qualcomm, though known for wireless chips, gets more than half its profit from licensing patents that are considered essential for handset makers to make products that work on 3G and 4G cellular networks. The company charges smartphone makers a percentage of the wholesale cost of their products to license its patents.

Companies that hold such “standard essential” patents, as they are called in the industry, have at times gotten into disputes over licensing policies at industry forums or lawsuits with other technology giants. Ericsson and Apple Inc., for example, engaged in almost a year of patent litigation in several countries before reaching a settlement in December.