Limits reported on access to fieldbus standard-related patents
Still worried that implementing the new fieldbus standards will infringe on patents, Endress+Hauser (E+H, Reinach, Switzerland) complained Aug. 21 that promised licensing access to three patents needed to build F OUNDATION fieldbus-compliant products is being restricted to five years by Rosemount Inc.
New Orleans, La. — Still worried that implementing the new fieldbus standards will infringe on patents, Endress+Hauser (E+H, Reinach, Switzerland) complained Aug. 21 that promised licensing access to three patents needed to build F OUNDATION fieldbus-compliant products is being restricted to five years by Rosemount Inc. (Eden Prairie, Minn.). The three patents cover control output signals from two-wire field devices. Access to a fourth patent would reportedly require a royalty-bearing license and apply only to E+H's Coriolis flowmeter. In a statement issued at ISA Expo/2000, Diether Schaudel, E+H's technology, techniques, and informatics director, stated that E+H sought better definitions of the patents for more than a year. However, he added that E+H hasn't received answers that would give it the "legal security" needed to effectively use the IEC 61158 and EN 50170 standards. To support its claims, E+H released correspondence from Rosemount, which outlines the restrictions and adds, "We are further willing to extend these non-exclusive licenses for the life of the patents if we are able to reach agreement on the other outstanding matters we discussed." Mr. Schaudel adds this ambiguousness supports E+H's concern and earlier contention that part of the fieldbus standards is a "Trojan horse" that will allow Rosemount, part of Fisher-Rosemount (F-R, Austin, Tex.), to use international standardization to eventually enforce a monopolistic policy. Representatives of the Fieldbus Foundation (FF, Austin, Tex.) declined to comment on E+H's claims on Aug. 23, though they added they would prepare a statement soon. FF and F-R have previously stated that royalty-free licenses would be granted to anyone seeking to build F OUNDATION fieldbus-based products. E+H is a founding member and sponsor of FF.
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