Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Wi-LAN and Nokia do patent deal

The globeandmail announced on Dec. 5: A bold shift in focus from manufacturing to patent licensing paid off for Wi-LAN Inc. Monday as the company's stock jumped 64 per cent after it announced a patent deal with wireless giant Nokia Corp. Of course, the globeandmail treated a different licensor, NTP, quite differently in reporting the NTP v. RIM (Blackberry) saga.

The globeandmail also reported:

Wi-LAN's corporate makeover began in February, when it revealed it was exiting the unprofitable broadband wireless equipment business. In the following months, the company sold its manufacturing assets and moved its head office to Ottawa from Calgary.

It was tough for Wi-LAN to compete against bigger players in the equipment market, but the company knew it had good patents and changed its strategy, said Greg Reid, an analyst at Wellington West Capital Markets.

Since then, Wi-LAN has put more than 50 companies on “notice” and embarked on licensing talks with some of them, Mr. Skippen said. In total, Wi-LAN believes there are more than 140 firms that need a licence for its patents. It took about five months to negotiate the agreement with Nokia, Mr. Skippen said.

“Having patents and successfully negotiating patent licences are two completely different things,” said Mr. Reid, who believes Mr. Skippen's experience in this area helped Wi-LAN seal the deal with Nokia.

Mr. Skippen said a number of companies require licences for Wi-LAN's new ADSL patents. They include Cisco Systems Inc., which settled a licensing lawsuit with Wi-LAN last year, he said. Cisco wasn't available for comment.

Nokia unearths some value from the patents it's transferring to Wi-LAN because it knocks down the cash portion it must pay as part of the licensing agreement, Mr. Richards said.

“This deal, including the sale of Nokia ADSL patents, fits nicely with Nokia's strategic approach by further enhancing the return from Nokia's patent assets, and by securing access to the next generation wireless technologies,” Ilkka Rahnasto, vice-president of Nokia's Intellectual Property Rights, said Monday in a statement.

IPBiz asks: if someone decides to challenge Wi-Lan's patents, or calls Wi-Lan a troll, will the globeandmail alter its reporting?

***Separately -->

ITNews discusses a patent application of Apple disclosing devices that would be "encased in a tube-like main body that is extruded in its entirety with the ceramic material" .

The main purpose of the design would be to allow for wireless communications to be transmitted with minimal interference. There are references to mobile phones and portable computing devices, suggesting that the technology could also be used to provide iPods with Wi-Fi functionality similar to Microsoft's Zune media player. Two possible materials for the device are listed as zirconia and alumina. Long ago, beta-alumina was a big deal as a potential electroyte in batteries for cars being researched by Ford Motor Company. Zirconia stabilized with both scandia and yttria in suitable proportions has shown promise of being a superior thermal-barrier coating (TBC) material; Yttria-stabilized zirconia TBCs have been applied to metallic substrates in gas turbine and jet engines to protect the substrates against high operating temperatures.


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