Rosemount Makes Patent Available to Foundation Fieldbus and HART
It always takes a little self-sacrifice and long-term vision to reach the promised land or invest in a worthwhile future.To help the process industry achieve its long-sought goal of an open, interoperable communication standard, Rosemount Inc. (Eden Prairie, Minn.) announced Jan. 9 that it's making available to FOUNDATION Fieldbus and HART Communication Foundation members a five-year, ro...
It always takes a little self-sacrifice and long-term vision to reach the promised land or invest in a worthwhile future.
To help the process industry achieve its long-sought goal of an open, interoperable communication standard, Rosemount Inc. (Eden Prairie, Minn.) announced Jan. 9 that it's making available to FOUNDATION Fieldbus and HART Communication Foundation members a five-year, royalty-free license under its "Warrior" patent for embedding control functionality into field-mounted devices on two-wire process control loops.
This access to U.S. Patent No. 5,485,400 will not only support members' efforts to manufacture and sell FOUNDATION Fieldbus-compatible or HART-compatible, "smart," field-mounted transmitters or controllers, but will also enhance and expand adoption of the underlying FOUNDATION Fieldbus and HART technology.
The royalty-free license's five-year timeframe was adopted so Rosemount can enforce its patent if FOUNDATION Fieldbus doesn't become the all-industry standard. However, though Rosemount will decide whether to extend this new Warrior license before the five years run out, participating licensees will be able to continue selling FOUNDATION Fieldbus- and HART-compliant products they introduced during the five years for the life of the Warrior patent.
"We believe that FOUNDATION Fieldbus and HART are the world's best hope for an open, interoperable, globally supported fieldbus, and so we felt it would be better to channel use of this patent in the direction of FOUNDATION Fieldbus and HART-compatible technology," says John Berra, president of Fisher-Rosemount and chair of the Fieldbus Foundation (both of Austin, Tex.).
Named for its developer, Jay Warrior, the patent basically consists of Rosemount's method for embedding software in hardware, including the control algorithms in its field devices. Rosemount officials say that today these algorithms are used almost universally in distributed control systems and control rooms worldwide. Fieldbus and digital communications allow the movement of process control functionality directly into smart, field-mounted transmitters and controllers that receive power and communications over a two-wire process control loop. This places the intelligence closer to the spot where manufacturing actions occur.
Besides differentiating FOUNDATION Fieldbus and HART from other protocols, access to the Warrior patent is likely to give the two foundations' protocols some added teeth when competing with other fieldbus protocols. To accomplish this, however, Rosemount plans to enforce the patent against manufacturers or sellers of infringing products that aren't FOUNDATION Fieldbus- or HART-compatible. The company also plans to donate up to 50% of any royalties received as a result of this enforcement to the Fieldbus Foundation.
"This is another demonstration of Rosemount's leadership and commitment to open, interoperable communication protocols, which are universally desired by our customers," says Edward Monser, Rosemount's president.
John Pittman, president of the Fieldbus Foundation, adds that Rosemount's action is a significant step toward achieving a single, interoperable fieldbus standard. "Users have been seeking this for the last 15 years," says Pittman. "Rosemount's license program can only enhance the adoption of FOUNDATION Fieldbus as that standard. We encourage every Fieldbus
Foundation and HART Communication Foundation member to license its patents to fellow members where appropriate."
From an international perspective, Mr. Berra adds that permission to use the patent is also important because FOUNDATION Fieldbus implements recent ISA and IEC standards for the process industry. "We think the other protocols aren't consistent with the IEC's worldwide standardization effort, and so allowing access to the patent only for FOUNDATION Fieldbus-compliant products supports the worldwide standardization effort."