Via Licensing asked for clarity on MHP patent licensing
13 March 2006
Geneva – 13 March 2006 – The DVB Project Office reports that the terms proposed for licensing patents essential to the Multimedia Home Platform have been broadly criticised by DVB members and by other implementers. The stiff reaction was in response to further terms announced on 2 March 2006 during DVB World in Dublin . Some critics suggest that the royalties proposed will lead implementers to slow the take-up of the MHP standard.
The Multimedia Home Platform (MHP) is a specification, adopted by the DVB Project, accommodating both digital broadcasting and interactivity. MHP set-top boxes have been introduced throughout Europe , with strong take-up in Italy . Until the announcement of terms earlier this month, MHP was scheduled for introduction in France and Spain . The standard is also used as the core for consumer devices in US cable networks and by the Blu-ray Disk Association. Holders of patents essential to MHP are forming a licensing programme (“patent pool”) and have named Via Licensing to administer the programme. The terms announced in Dublin by Via Licensing on behalf of the patent holders can be found at: www.vialicensing.com/news/via_pr_0603_MHP.html.
“In Dublin and during the past week, I’ve collected a number of highly adverse comments to the licensing programme,” reported Peter MacAvock, Executive Director DVB. “I’ve heard that the royalties are too onerous and don’t reflect the different broadcast distribution patterns within Europe . Accounting for MHP households as the basis for assessing royalties is unclear, especially in Europe free-to-air markets. Also, it’s claimed that the royalties on equipment are too high compared to the cost of production, at a time when an MHP box ex factory is approaching € 30. Overall this news must be terribly disheartening to those markets which are considering the commercialisation of MHP.”
DVB itself doesn’t express views on commercial terms offered by patent holders, but collects and forwards on comments of its members and other implementers. It also provides a forum for discussion of individual views during meetings of its IPR Module.
Carter Eltzroth, Legal Director DVB, stated, “DVB has worked hard to promote a favourable licensing and compliance environment for MHP. It would be extremely disappointing if the market concludes that the terms required by the MHP pool block further commercialisation. Also the pool has not yet told us what patents are covered by the licence. I hope that the pool delivers a patent list at the 6 April meeting of our IPR Module.”