Just a quick note to our valued shareholders that additional questions and answers from the Annual Shareholder Meeting have been posted, and can be viewed here. Our apologies for the mishap with the power failure – everything we could control was going great, but we can’t control the weather!
When the meeting ended there were three questions by e-mail that had not been answered and a further five questions submitted via the online platform remaining in the queue, with some overlap between the questions as is invariably the case. We’ve also responded to a lengthy comment on why we hold a virtual shareholder meeting.
Thank you all for attending this year – with over 90 online attendees it was a success, but even we can’t do much about confirmed tornadoes!
The oneTRANSPORT initiative in the UK has been an enormous success, highlighting the tremendous role that breaking down data silos and exposing new sources of data can play in improving services for consumers… and driving revenue for public authorities.
It’s also been getting a lot of attention in the technology media. After an excellent article last week in ComputerWeekly, this time it’s Computer Business Review having a look at the project, with a very interesting angle: how cities and public authorities can use IoT technology (in this case, InterDigital’s oneMPOWER™ platform) to monetize their data at a time of ongoing public spending cutbacks. “Projects such as oneTRANSPORT show that councils have important assets already available that might help them ease the pain of spending cuts – and technology might be the way to unlock them,” says CBR’s Alex Sword.
The Internet of Things (IoT) is one of the most important areas of research for InterDigital, for a variety of reasons. For our technologists, we understand that it’s a force that will in all likelihood fundamentally alter the way the world operates, much like the advent of large-scale business computing or the Internet. For our investors, we often highlight that IoT is one of the next big opportunities that the company is working to capitalize on, through a variety of approaches including our Convida Wireless joint venture, our ONEMPOWER M2M service delivery platform, and wot.io, our startup focused on IoT data management.
So although it’s still early days for IoT, we were happy to see InterDigital included in a list of IoT market leaders when it comes to intellectual property. In a blog entry yesterday, Boston-based TechIPm, LLC, a professional research and consulting company specializing in technology and intellectual property mining and management, ranked InterDigital third in its “M2M for IoT Innovation Ranking,” just behind LG and Ericsson and ahead of Samsung, ETRI and Qualcomm, among others.
The ranking underscores the pioneering development and standardization work that InterDigital has done in IoT, including helping to drive the ETSI standard that is now a part of the OneM2M effort. That work has also been captured in a solution, the ONEMPOWER M2M service delivery platform, which was highlighted at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.
It should be noted, InterDigital does not vouch for the accuracy of third-party research or the methodologies such researchers employ – TechIPm’s conclusions are their own. Still, it’s nice to be noticed!
Today, our company announced that our board of directors had approved some amendments to our bylaws, in the form of an 8-K. Among the changes there’s one that, as head of investor relations, I’d like to highlight: we adjusted our bylaws to provide InterDigital with the ability to hold a virtual annual shareholder meeting. Virtual annual meetings provide shareholders with the ability not only to hear the proceedings and ask questions online, but also to vote real-time. Annual meetings can be fully virtual or hybrid, combining an in-person physical meeting with an online virtual component.
Fully virtual annual meetings have been progressing in terms of adoption recently – according to Broadridge, one of the leading virtual annual meeting technology providers, the number of companies holding fully virtual annual shareholder meetings almost doubled from 2012 to 2014. While it’s still certainly a minority of public companies, the trend is clear. And, as a company whose brand is intertwined with advanced tech R&D and the future of communications technology, we feel like we should have the flexibility to be on that leading edge.
At InterDigital, part of our analysis about whether a fully virtual annual meeting makes sense or not is rooted in our recent history. In 2013, we nudged virtual participation ahead by taking questions by e-mail and providing an audio webcast. Last year, we went a step further, providing a full HD video webcast and encouraging online participation (but not real-time voting). The results were significant: although the event was still optimized for in-person participation, we had only a handful of shareholders in attendance… but more than 70 online.
So the bylaw change is motivated by something very simple: the desire to have the ability to optimize the annual meeting for the vast majority of people who attend it, and to make it easier and more enjoyable for as many shareholders as possible to fully participate.
We have not yet decided whether we will hold a fully virtual annual meeting in 2015, but we wanted to make the bylaw change now so that we have the option, either now or in the future.
As always, I’d be happy to take specific feedback at email@example.com.
The topic of patent reform and intellectual property has been a hot one in recent years, and the wireless and technology industries have focused tremendous amounts of attention on it. The Consumer Electronics Association, of which InterDigital is a member, chose this year to host a panel on the topic and reached out to our President and Chief Executive Officer, Bill Merritt. As Bill said prior to the panel, “When you look at the topic it seems like everyone is fighting, but when you take the discussion to a high enough level, everyone agrees on what we need: quality patents, the elimination of bad actors, and responsible industry practices.”
The extremely well-attended session was hosted by Michael Petricone, (@mpetricone, Senior Vice President of Government Affairs for the Consumer Electronics Association). Bill Merritt was joined on the panel by Lee Cheng (@leecheng and Chief Legal Officer of NewEgg Inc.), Sally Washlow (President of Cobra Electronics), Laurie Self (VP if Government Affairs at Qualcomm Inc.), and Katie McAuliffe of Digital Liberty, a Washington-based lobby group.
As Michael Petricone said in his introduction, “America has always been characterized by a great patent system, and when you walk the halls of this show you see concrete evidence of that.” He described what he characterized as “everyone’s goal” of balancing incentive to innovation with reigning in practices that can be detrimental to companies.
“Our company wouldn’t exist without a strong patent system – half the products that you see out in the show wouldn’t exist without a strong patent system,” said Merritt, who further underlined that the correct way forward lay in “striking a balance” between innovation and the interests of consumers, businesses and the country. Laurie Self of Qualcomm highlighted the importance of intellectual property protection in the wireless industry. She mentioned that “many of the investments that my company and InterDigital make in research and development are for technologies that may not be in the market for 5 years, or ten years, or ever. The only way we can make those bets is with the protection of the patent system.”
Lee Cheng characterized his stance as defining bad actors via “actions-based” definitions, rather than asserting entity-based descriptions. He defined a two-pronged test for abusive behavior: that the patent being asserted is a bad patent, that probably shouldn’t have been granted; and secondly that the behavior is designed to take advantage of the legal system to extract compensation that is higher than the value of the patent. Sally Washlow highlighted the contrast between innovation and abusive behavior very succinctly: “We’re a company, we develop technology and have patents and we have nothing against licensing, but often when we receive letters we feel like we’re being extorted.”
Merritt highlighted the agreement on the panel, and underscored that a number of elements that have been put in place – the Alice decision, post-grant review, etc. – have just begun to take effect, and they should be provided more time to work, prompting visible agreement from a number of participants. He further made the point that a fundamental issue is that while people agree at a higher level on general principles, when the actual litigation on these topics is drafted it generally extends far beyond that level of agreement. He offered the example of demand letters: “The idea was to defend mom and pop coffee shops and users like that, who were held up as the examples of who was being affected. But when the draft legislation arrived, it was a pleading minefield, that was designed to protect large, multinational companies implementing the technology in their products.”
In the interest of posting timely content specific quotes have been delivered as accurately as possible, but readers are encouraged to view the entire video of the panel for verbatim content. All in all, what was noteworthy with the panel was the reasoned, nuanced and sophisticated level of debate and discussion – which contrasted markedly with the strident accusations and name-calling that we often see when the topic of intellectual property is brought up in tech circles. Credit to Michael Petricone for assembling an excellent panel, and leading the discussion very effectively. Hopefully the level of discussion in other circles – the tech industry globally, and public policy capitals around the world – can achieve a similar level of civility and intellectualism.
We don’t often highlight tweets on our website, but we thought this one from the very respected Intellectual Asset Management (IAM) Magazine spoke way more than 144 characters.
Anyone calling InterDigital a troll after Samsung deal is revealing ignorance that disqualifies them from ever being taken seriously again.
— IAM magazine (@IAM_magazine) June 3, 2014
In his Signals Flash roundup of the most exciting features of the recent Mobile World Congress, leading industry analyst Mike Thelander of Signals Research highlighted InterDigital’s 60GHz millimeter-wave hotspot research, which was announced at the conference in collaboration with imec. According to Thelander, “If the solution works as proposed it would make it far easier and faster to deploy high-capacity wireless backhaul connectivity to the small cell. Further, the solution could be far more resilient to disruptions in the millimeter wave radio link which requires line-of-site and the ability to cope with high propagation loss, not to mention weather-related interruptions.”
Mike Thelander is the founder of Signals Research, and has been one of the most respected voices in the wireless industry for many years. For more information about InterDigital’s millimeter-wave research and other areas of 5G, please visit the InterDigital Vault at vault.interdigital.com and enter the search term “5G”.