Promising partnerships: RFID Consortium creates one-stop licensing; TAGSYS steps up frequency-agnostic infrastructures
Seven companies with patented RFID technology have organized the RFID Consortium LLC to streamline licensing of patented UHF RFID technology essential for developing solutions. The overall goal of hastening widespread industrial deployment is dependent, goes the reasoning, on making it less costly and cumbersome for companies to employ patented elements—hence a single clearinghouse for licensing a broad array of technology.
“This provides a way out of the patent thicket by providing a one-stop shop for any manufacturer that needs a whole bunch of licenses,” says David Poole, recently retired VP of patents and technology for Zebra Technologies , and an active participant in the new consortium. “With creation of this consortium, a manufacturer signs one license and gets access to hundreds of patents.”
Funds generated by the licensing process will be paid to participating companies based on consortium shares. The original consignees include 3M , France Telecom , Hewlett-Packard , LG Electronics , Motorola , ThingMagic , and Zebra Technologies. A positive business review judgment expected by summer by the U.S. Department of Justice would give the go-ahead to initiate licensing.
Meanwhile, TAGSYS , IBM, and NXP Semiconductors partnered late last year to provide a seamless migration capability to the new EPCglobal high-performance HF Version (V2) standard anticipated early this year.
“This is a big step in making RFID infrastructure frequency-agnostic,” says John Jordon, president of TAGSYS worldwide field operations. “The readers themselves will handle the difference frequencies, dramatically reducing the cost of RFID infrastructures.”
NXP has engineered firmware for upgrading the new TAGSYS Medio L400 reader when the standard is released. IBM and TAGsys are offering the Serialization Pilot Kit, a set of bundled tags, reader system and software, and IBM services to enable a low-cost, low-risk upgrade path. The program, initially targeting the pharmaceutical industry, will “allow the user to test the new technology at a fixed price, with free upgrade to the hardware if they decide to keep it,” Jordon says.