Locator GmbH offers an embedded location platform (hardware and software), which enables a robust, energy-efficient location service. The company has been operating in the ICT sector for about 25 years. Locator has about 25 employees, and the product portfolio is composed of IC wireless modules, tags, anchors, and location engine software. The market situation of the company is very dynamic and exhibits a high innovation potential. Furthermore, formal and non-official standardization documents and standards are of high importance in the industry. The company patented its embedded location platform, which is also standardized in IEC/ISO 24730-5: Real-Time Locating System (RTLS) air interface (global tracking).
The company opted for a mixed approach that combines formal standardization and patenting.
Waarom deze keuze?
Why this choice? The company made such a choice for two reasons: firstly to ensure exclusive rights, while generating licence revenues, especially from standardization activities (SEPs), and secondly to achieve wide dissemination of the company’s patented technology and to conquer new markets.
The CEO of the company said in this regard, “We developed intellectual property, and we wanted to make it the standard”. In addition, the objective of the company is “to not just write the patent, but also to develop the strategy around it. I ask myself, what is the overall strategy for innovation? It consists of both patents and standards”.
In this case, the technology is patentable. The patent portfolio covers the inventions and constitutes an important asset of the company in order to attract investors. Because of its size, the company’s resources are limited, and there is a need for external investment money. Investors needed to be
convinced about the standardization activities. In the CEO’s words, “Patents are generally needed when I search for investors. Until now I could not manage to make investors enthusiastic about my company, by pushing standardization.”
All in all, IP protection was essential for Locator GmbH, although the company would not be able to fight against patent infringements. Standardization was used as a tool to distribute the patented technology at an international level (SEP). The essential patent was licensed under fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory terms (FRAND).
The importance of standardization in achieving international take-up of the technology is summarized by the following statement from the CEO: “I do not choose the countries because of the standardization activities, but I take standardization to approach the countries.”