Legal Issues

by Mike Masnick

The WiMax Patent Question

One issue that has been known to cause all sorts of problems for standards efforts is the dreaded "patent" problem. What if one or more companies owns related intellectual property that is needed for a particular standard. In all the hype about WiMax, many people have been ignoring the fact that Wi-Lan claims they own a variety of WiMax-related patents and are going around convincing companies they need to license those patents. We're certainly not against intellectual property around here, but it seems like too often patents are being used these days to hold back innovation, rather than encourage it. Wi-Lan's patents are going to become an important issue for WiMax, and could create some headaches in the industry. We've written about Wi-Lan and their patents before (nearly a year ago), but it seemed like many were hoping this issue would just go away. With Redline now agreeing (unhappily) to pay up a license fee to Wi-Lan, the debate should get some more attention.

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