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AT&T, Clearwire, HP, and others join LTE patent pool

Supporters say patent pool will reduce legal battles between companies and free up resources for development.

Josh Lowensohn/CNET

A group of wireless-industry companies -- including AT&T, Clearwire, and HP -- have agreed to a patent pool that could mean fewer lawsuits over the use of LTE technology, Via Licensing Corporation announced today.

The technology-licensing company said it hopes more companies will join the program. In addition to AT&T, Clearwire, and HP, the initial companies contributing their patents to the pool are DTVG Licensing, KDDI, NTT DoCoMo, SK Telecom, Telecom Italia, Telefonica, and ZTE.

The LTE patents are so-called "frand," or standard-essential patents, which are technologies required to be licensed on "fair, reasonable, and nondiscriminatory" terms to allow compatibility between devices and rival products. LTE technology is quickly becoming the preferred choice for wireless technology because of its speed.

The pool will give manufacturers access to these costly patents, which supporters hope means less legal-wrangling and more resources spent on development.

Roger Ross II, president of Via, had this to say in a statement:

Wireless innovation is threatened by costly patent litigation and a lack of predictability surrounding the cost and availability of necessary IP. Working closely with the leading industry players, Via has developed a straightforward way to make available LTE standard-essential patents in a fair, reasonable, and nondiscriminatory fashion. An LTE patent pool based on the best practices prescribed by global antitrust and competition authorities helps patent owners fulfill their obligations to standards bodies while supporting a level playing field among innovators. As an independent administrator, Via is committed to meeting the needs of both patent owners and companies deploying LTE products and services.

Missing from the group are other LTE patent holders, such as Nokia, LG, Motorola, and Samsung, which is currently embroiled in an LTE patent suit against Apple. The South Korean company sued Apple for patent infringementover its use of LTE connectivity in the iPhone.