3G: Patent service aims to lower equipment costs

In a move to reduce equipment costs for operators and users alike, 3G Patents Ltd., an industry consortium of more than 50 wireless companies, is now accepting applications to evaluate essential patent claims.

The services include evaluating, certifying and licensing technology viewed as essential for manufacturing and operating 3G (third-generation) mobile broadband networks, the company said Monday in a statement.

Licensing IPR (intellectual property rights) from third parties can account for between 15 and 20 percent of the cost of a handset or base station, according to 3G Patents spokesman Brian Kearsey. "If companies can reduce the costs of obtaining licenses to use essential patents, they can lower their capital expenditures and thus the cost of their products," he said.

The 3G Patent licensing program, said Kearsey, "is really designed to speed up and simplify what can be a very painful process that can take up to two to three years between large companies."

The licensing program also aims to establish and ensure royalty levels for specific 3G products, such as handsets and base stations, the organization said.

The service has won approval from major antitrust 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.

A network of approved patent law firms and attorneys from Europe, China, Japan, South Korea and North America are responsible for the evaluation and certification process, according to 3G Patents, which is located in London.

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