Friday, October 15, 2004

NAVIGATING THE RFID PATENT LANDSCAPE: About 70 patents lawyers, representatives of RFID vendors, and venture capitalists gathered at a hotel near San Francisco last week to discuss issues surrounding RFID intellectual property (IP). Speakers at the International RFID IP Conference differed on just how many patents are covered by EPCglobal's IP policy and what that means for vendors building products based on the EPC Gen 2 specification.

more than 4,000 RFID patents have been issued globally and that existing free-licensing agreements provide "only limited protection" for vendors building any RFID products, including products based on EPCglobal's Gen 2 standard, which is near finalization.

The issue is important to end users because it could affect the price they pay for RFID hardware. If EPCglobal's IP policy, which calls for a free-licensing program for vendors that sign the policy and agree to donate their own IP royalty-free, does not fully protect vendors, then they may have to pay royalty fees to patent holders. That cost would inevitably be passed on to consumers of the technology.

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