Home » Automakers deal with patent hurdle in quest for in-car tech

Automakers deal with patent hurdle in quest for in-car tech

By Victoria Waldersee and Supantha Mukherjee

STOCKHOLM/BERLIN (Reuters) – Over a dozen automakers together with Toyota and Nissan, have signed up with a platform for patent licences from 51 tech firms, aiming to simplify entry to wi-fi expertise and keep away from pricey authorized battles.

Conflicts have stemmed partially from totally different views amongst carmakers, suppliers and tech companies over who ought to shoulder the price of licensing.

Via impartial licensing market Avanci, carmakers acquire entry to patents for 2G, 3G and 4G expertise from the likes of Finland’s Nokia, Sweden’s Ericcson and Taiwan’s Acer for every thing from navigation methods to sensors for automated driving.

Avanci prices a flat payment of $20 per automobile, elevated this month from $15 beforehand, with the cash distributed amongst patent holders. The brand new signings – which additionally embody Renault, Stellantis, and Honda – imply 80-85% of vehicles with 2G expertise or increased are licensed by the platform, Avanci vice chairman Mark Durrant stated in an interview.

The mannequin permits carmakers to keep away from the battles over royalties that came about between smartphone makers resembling Apple and Samsung and telecoms firms, who negotiate one-on-one for licences. “The auto market is simply too splintered for it to be price it for patent homeowners to barter with every particular person participant,” stated an business supply, who declined to be named due to contractual agreements. “It is a matter of effectivity.

Mercedes-Benz, then Daimler, ended a years-long dispute over its patent use final 12 months with Nokia after being ultimately pressured to pay. Volkswagen was sued by Acer for utilizing its 4G expertise with out the suitable licence. The carmaker in March signed with Avanci, which covers Acer’s patents, as a way to settle.

Whereas suppliers have traditionally paid for patent licences in areas like engine design, tech companies would fairly deal immediately with carmakers over telecoms patents, based on an auto business supply with expertise of licensing negotiations.

“Normally suppliers deal with patents within the growth course of – telecoms is the one space the place they do not,” the individual, who declined to be named, stated. Avanci can also be working with firms on a brand new contract to cowl 5G patents, which might doubtless be costlier than the present patent portfolio.

(Reporting by Victoria Waldersee and Supantha Mukherjee; Enhancing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise)