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Exclusive: Dolby-backed Opus pool reveals royalty demands

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The Vectis IP pool will charge €15c per unit for access to patents covering the Opus audio technology standard

Licensing firm Vectis IP, backed by Dolby and research group Fraunhofer, launched a new patent pool for the Opus audio technology standard today, January 16.

The pool licence offers access to more than 300 patents owned by Dolby and Fraunhofer at a rate of €15c ($16c) per unit with an annual cap of €15 million.

Licensees who sign up before October this year will pay a lower rate of €10c per unit, subject to an annual cap of €10 million.

The pool will not seek any royalties from licensees who sign up before October for any historic use of the standard.

The royalties charged to licensees who sign up after October will date to January 1, 2023.

The Opus standard was developed by programmers at Skype, Mozilla, and the Xiph.Org Foundation.

These organisations made a commitment to license the tech on an open-access, royalty-free basis.

None of Vectis, Dolby, or Fraunhofer were part of the standardisation process for Opus, which was carried out by the Internet Engineering Task Force.

Giustino de Sanctis, CEO of Vectis IP, told Managing IP that the original Opus developers’ royalty-free commitment didn’t cover all of the patents essential to the standard.

De Sanctis said the pool would target licensees involved in the manufacture of tablets, PCs, and smartphones.

Asked whether implementers would react negatively to being asked to pay for access to Opus technology, he said Vectis would work to educate the market.

“If the market has a certain expectation, you have to face that expectation.”

He acknowledged a comparison with the auto industry, which initially resisted pressure to license cellular patents.

“Automakers never thought this was a problem.

“It will be part of our job to go out there and explain this reality,” he said.

De Sanctis said the pool had been involved in discussions with potential licensors since an original call for patents last September.

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