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An Index of IPR Holders - Part I: Introduction

By Dean Tan
Translated by Jeffrey Chang
Original article available here (Chinese)

In today's high tech industries, so-called "patent pools" or "patent holding entities" are becoming increasingly common. As these types of intellectual property rights (IPR) holders grow in both number and size, they have also begun developing and commercializing their patent collections, thereby growing in influence as well. Consequently, these intellectual property holdings have not only encouraged the rapid development of high-tech industries and other emerging technologies, but also become a subject IP professionals cannot ignore.

To help our reader's avoid unintentional infringement of patents, or just to provide a single, convenient reference resource for important patent information, this article has collected and listed below an extensive set of links to major IPR holders in high-tech and other advanced technology industries. The links are classified as such: general and wireless communications/information technology, Internet (including multi-media broadcasting network), digital TV/home entertainment, optical storage media (including Blu-ray Disc), mass communication, semiconductor processes, biotechnology/genomics technology, integrated circuit manufacturing, nanotechnology and other emerging technologies.

IPR Holders in the Index

Here we will briefly introduce the types of IPR holders who comprise the index:

Patent pools are usually a consortium of patent holders who have brought together or cross-licensed their patents in order to create a single large "pool" that can generate considerable synergies. A potential licensee would therefore need only deal with a single transaction, yet obtain the right to use the technologies from multiple patent holders.

A licensing transaction like the one above possesses more reasonable, transparent, equitable and user-friendly conditions, and as a result has largely replaced the traditional approach of negotiating a separate patent license with each rights holder. Another advantage is that members of the patent pool have mutually agreed to allow the use of each other's patents without the need for licensing fees.

Another type of IPR holder is a "Patent Holding Company or Entity", usually a company set-up by a single large enterprise or research institution to consolidate and administer a large number of related patents. The collection will usually create significant synergies. As with patent pools, potential licensees will only need deal with a single transaction for the right to use the technologies legally.

In addition to patent pools and patent holding companies, another type of IPR holder listed is the large multinational technology company that focuses on "high quality" R&D , and who as accumulated a large patent portfolio as a result. Usually since these companies have little interest in commercializing these technologies, they are happy to bundle the patents and license them out for development by others.

Lastly, the index includes a small number of individual inventors who may not hold many patents, but the ones they do hold are important and are essential patents.

Essential Patents & Complementary Patents

Whether facing patent pools, patent holding entities, or an international corporation with a huge patent portfolio, a patent licensee must research in advance what essential or complementary patents reside in these entities' portfolios. Through this way can a licensee can then legally acquire and utilize the appropriate patent rights.

What defines an "essential patent"? According to the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI), an essential patent is:

an IPR which has been included within a standard and where it would be impossible to implement the standard without making use of this IPR. The only way to avoid the violation of this IPR in respect of the implementation of the standard is therefore to request a license from the owner.
What defines a "complementary patent"? When the claims of two patents (or more) cover the same areas, and utilizing the technologies of one cannot be done without utilizing the technologies of the other, these are called complementary patents.

Here we have elaborated on essential and complementary patents in order to remind those engaged in research that, in addition to concentrating on creating the best features for the product, to also keep a longer-term perspective. When collecting information to design-around patents, also consider the development of future products that may rely on the technology and the potential for complementary patents. Doing this will allow licensees to easily and effectively utilize the patent and its technologies.

Continue to Part II--the Index >


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