In high-profile speech InterDigital CEO emphasizes the close links between innovation and IP licensing
InterDigital CEO and President Liren Chen recently gave a keynote speech at the China IP Annual Conference in which he highlighted the strength of InterDigital’s innovation in areas like 5G, the company’s leadership in the standards community, and why it’s important to take account of patent quality when analyzing a company’s IP portfolio.
The conference, which this year was held in Jinan in Shandong province, was attended by more than 8,000 leaders from across China’s IP community, and attracted high-profile speakers from the likes of the China National Intellectual Property Administration (CNIPA), Huawei, Qualcomm, ZTE, Tencent, JD, and Baidu.
Part of Liren’s speech focused on the leadership role that InterDigital plays in various standardized technologies including 5G and advanced video compression. While the company has been a pioneer in video for decades and in wireless through each generation of mobile, Liren recognized that, more recently, Chinese companies have emerged as notable contributors to various standards.
“From their many contributions and from the declared standard essential patents that they file, many Chinese companies have joined us to become valued innovators in the standards space,” Liren pointed out.
But, as well as playing a role as innovators, Chinese companies who implement standardized technologies in the devices they manufacture, also gain much from the standards process. “Over the last 15 years, these companies have also benefited considerably from standardized technologies that they can implement relatively cheaply so that they can bring new devices to consumers at a rapid pace,” Liren said in his speech.
And the global, collaborative nature of the standards development process is also a considerable boon to the global tech sector, including in China. “Standards that are collaborative, open and truly global in nature, offer far more advantages to Chinese OEMs than closed systems that can potentially be walled off when circumstances change,” Liren outlined. “And this is not just about Chinese companies in the smartphone space and in consumer electronics, but also in areas like automotive where advanced connectivity is increasingly valuable and where China’s auto companies are now recognized on the global stage.”
A small number of Chinese tech giants, including Huawei, are now emerging as players in IP licensing, but Liren admitted that in many parts of the world the role that licensing plays in the innovation ecosystem is poorly understood, including how it provides a crucial source of revenue for innovators who are then able to continue to invest in their research.
But for licensing to work most effectively, it needs reliable and balanced IP laws which support companies like InterDigital in making long-term bets on how their innovation is likely to shape products and services in the future.
“As an innovation business, our patents should be thought of as the product we bring to market,” Liren told the conference. “Some of our innovations may not be incorporated into a standard and implemented in a device until years after we file a patent. But our patent protection, backed by reliable IP rights, provides us with some security that we will be able to keep investing in our research through the revenue we generate in licensing.”
Liren also took the opportunity to explain the important role that InterDigital plays in the innovation ecosystem. “By focusing solely on research, InterDigital is an incredibly important contributor to global standards,” he said. “Our contributions are not necessarily made with a specific chipset or device in mind, but simply directed to advancing innovation in the most effective way.”
In his final comments to the conference, Liren highlighted some of InterDigital’s innovation priorities for the next few years including the upcoming introduction of 5G Advanced and how AI/ML is increasingly being applied in wireless and video.
“We already see the impact that AI/ML is having in cellular but its ongoing application across wireless and video promises to change how we connect by making networks more reliable, more efficient, and better equipped to handle more immersive experiences such as through the metaverse,” Liren outlined.
With a pipeline of innovation set to deliver ever more advanced connectivity, the conference audience was left in no doubt about the vital role that IP licensing will continue to play.