The AllSeen Alliance changes its IP stance after Iotivity launch

After getting hammered on its intellectual property rights by Intel’s competing Iotivity standards effort, the AllSeen Alliance, which is promoting Qualcomm-backed AllJoyn protocol, is offering users a patent pledge. Essentially anyone who gets certified with the AllSeen Alliance logo also gets a pledge that none of the members of the alliance will sue for use of their technology.

Philip DesAutels, senior director of IoT at the Linux Foundation, which hosts the AllSeen Alliance, says that the 15 members of the Alliance had been working on this since last August, but it took time to get all 15 members to agree. They’ve agreed on the patent pledge, which means that those service, app or devices makers who get certified won’t get sued for patent infringement by member companies, and they will get to go through certification and to use the Designed for AllSeen logo without paying any licensing or membership fee.

To enforce this, if a member company decides to sue for infringement, all the other AllSeen member companies will defend the certified device, app or service maker against the suit-happy AllSeen Alliance member. It’s a bit different from the Open Interconnect Consortium’s Iotivity IP deal, which lets members license the protocol for free. But the OIC has been pushing that different program pretty hard, especially after it lost Broadcom, one of its founding members, after a dispute over intellectual property terms.

Yes, all of this is very much in the weeds, but these two organizations are fighting to establish a standard way for devices to communicate what they are and what they can do within a home network. Whichever one succeeds will be building what each hopes could become the equivalent of HTTP for the internet of things in the home.

And while each standards effort is led by a rival chip company DesAutels says they aren’t that far apart from a technical perspective. “There’s no technical reason we can’t come together right now,” he said. “I mean, there are things like OIC supports CoAP and AllJoyn can run over CoAP. There’s no reason it can’t, it’s just no one has done it. People don’t want a hodge-podge of stuff. They want one application to control their devices and we have to give them that.”

As for this patent pledge, it will take effect 90 days after being announced on Thursday, which means devices shipping with the AllSeen certification after April 29 will be protected.