Lest we forget the prevalence of standards in many industries beyond smartphones and Wi-Fi, last Friday (Nov. 1), several radio stations were sued by patent monetization entity Wyncomm in D. Del. for infringing three patents alleged to cover “transmission of radio broadcasts using HD radio techniques further described by the IBOC [In-Band/On-Channel] Digital Radio Standard” that is promulgated by the National Radio Systems Committee (NRSC).
The patents were granted in 1995 to 1997 and no injuctive relief is directly pled. The standard at issue, NRSC-5, was originally adopted in April 2005 and has gone through a few revisions, most recently in September 2011 (NRSC-5-C). NRSC-5 has been reported to be the only system approved by the FCC for digital AM/FM broadcasts in the U.S. The NRSC has an IPR policy (Procedures Manual Section 188.8.131.52) with certain disclosure requirements for standard essential patents and a declaration whether licenses would be granted “without charge” or “under reasonable terms and conditions” and, in either event, “demonstrably free of any unfair discrimination.” Whether and to what extent that IPR policy comes into play is yet to be seen — e.g., did any prior owner of the patents participate in the NRSC standard-setting process and, if so, what was the IPR policy at the time?