The FCC is requesting comment on a petition for declaratory ruling and/or rulemaking filed by TeleCommunication Systems (TCS) regarding intellectual property rights (IPR) in technologies used to provide 9-1-1 communications services.
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TCS provides enhanced 9-1-1 (E9-1-1) and next-generation 9-1-1 (NG 9-1-1) services including call routing and location information to customers such as wireless carriers and interconnected VoIP service providers. TCS said it has become a target of “predatory patent infringement suits” based on its role as a provider of E9-1-1 services and capabilities that are required under FCC rules.
The lawsuits, “typically allege infringement based on the mere fact that the defendant is in compliance with the commission’s E9-1-1 regulations,” including E911 Phase II location accuracy requirements, TCS said. More broadly, TCS said that it and its customers have become the targets of patent assertion entities (PAEs) that “use the commission’s mandatory E9-1-1 regulations against compliant carriers and their vendors in an attempt to extract licensing agreements,” leaving such companies with a choice between violating commission rules, defending costly patent infringement lawsuits and accepting unreasonable terms of licensing, TCS said.
TCS asked the FCC to issue a declaratory ruling that service providers’ compliance with E9-1-1 and NG 9-1-1 regulations amounts to a use of intellectual property “by or for the United States” within the meaning of 28 U.S.C. § 1498(a). The company also proposed additions to FCC rules, stating the following: All IPRs required by entities subject to the provisions of this section to comply with the requirements herein shall be licensed on reasonable terms and conditions that are demonstrably free of any unfair discrimination so long as the rights are used for the purpose of providing 9-1-1 or E9-1-1 services in accordance with the commission’s rules.
Comments are due March 25, and reply comments are due April 8.
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