DAB Patents Expiry

A manufacturer’s viewpoint – Pure

issue 18 premThere has been much talk and quite some  anticipation of the imminent expiry of various  patents related to the DAB family of products.  The patents generally referred to as the  Philips patents, are in fact the intellectual  property of various companies within a pool  which is administered by Philips. The patent  pool provides a one-stop shop to get all  the licenses needed by the patent owners  for the DAB technology – such as the layer  2 audio decoder and the channel decoder  including synchronisation, time and frequency  deinterleaving.

With the last “original” DAB patent expiring  at different times in different countries, the  picture is quite complicated. For example,  did you know that by mid-August 2012,  the original patent had already expired in  Australia, Denmark, the Netherlands and a  few other countries? But the big news for  manufacturers is the expiry on 18 January  2013 of the last patent in some of the largest  potential DAB markets – France, Germany,  Italy, Sweden, Switzerland and the UK.

So what will this mean for manufacturers and consumers?

Put simply, lower costs and potentially lower  prices. The actual saving depends on the  total number of DAB devices shipped by  each manufacturer, with the normal range  spreading from €2.50 for low-volume  manufacturers, down to €1.50 for large  manufacturers like ourselves. From 18  January, any shipments into countries where  the patents have expired are no longer liable  for the royalty payment. With standard retail  multipliers it could mean that the price of  entry-level DAB radios could be reduced by  around €5.

If you’re reading this in the UK though, don’t  get overly excited. The planned UK Digital  Tick mark mandates DAB+ support in all  accredited products, and that adds Us$0.98  back onto the cost price of many products.  so one door opens, and another door  closes…

Colin Crawford
Director of Marketing, Pure


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