It’s an IoT standards shakeup as Broadcom dumps Intel’s Open Interconnect Consortium

Broadcom, one of the founding members of the Open Interconnect Consortium, has left the group over a disagreement on how to handle intellectual property, according to a source involved on the OIC. The standards group was formed this summer as a competitor to Qualcomm’s efforts to push AllJoyn as a device-to-device protocol that would help identify and assess the capabilities of connected devices.

However, when the OIC put out a press release last week touting several new members, Broadcom’s name was missing from the founding members listed in the press release. It is also scrubbed from the OIC’s web site, with the exception of an FAQ page. I’ve reached out to [company]Broadcom[/company] for comment, and will update when I hear from it.

My source said that Broadcom’s exodus had to deal with provisions in the IP licensing agreements that required companies that were donating code to the project to give up their right to sue over that IP. He furthermore said that the AllSeen Alliance doesn’t have as rigorous a policy when it comes to its IP licensing agreements. While the OIC requires member companies to avoid suing by members and the member’s parent company, the AllSeen Alliance doesn’t have such a provision.

Gary Martz, an OIC spokesperson and an [company]Intel[/company] employee, confirmed that Broadcom has left the OIC. He also confirmed that the OIC’s licensing policies include a RAND-Z provision that means companies that participate must offer a zero-rate reasonable and non discriminatory license to their code for member organizations. He added that the AllSeen Alliance does not, which is a key difference between the two organizations. “That’s why Intel couldn’t join the AllSeen Alliance,” he said. “There’s no IP policy.”

That’s notable, primarily because Qualcomm’s Connected Experiences Inc. is a member of the AllSeen Alliance, but [company]Qualcomm[/company] Inc. the parent company is not. While the OIC source could be spreading doubt about a competing member, Qualcomm does lay out how its IP works fairly clearly on its website. From the site:

[blockquote person=”” attribution=””]We operate our businesses through our parent company, QUALCOMM Incorporated, and multiple direct and indirect subsidiaries. Qualcomm Technologies Licensing (QTL) is operated by QUALCOMM Incorporated, which owns the vast majority of our patent portfolio. Substantially all of our products and services businesses, including Qualcomm CDMA Technologies (QCT), and substantially all of our engineering, research and development functions, are operated by Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. (QTI) and its subsidiaries. Neither QTI nor any of its subsidiaries has any right, power or authority to grant any licenses or other rights under or to any patents owned by QUALCOMM Incorporated.
I’ve reached out to the AllSeen Alliance to get more information. Either way, since we’re expecting more details to emerge about the technical parameters of the OIC standard, I imagine we’ll see a lot of movement in the standards world in the coming months. CES in January should be pretty interesting for folks trying to see what might win. For those who can’t wait, I’m sure the subject of standards will come up at our Structure Connect event this month in san Francisco.