Weightless Terminal Licence

Important: This is a note for guidance in plain English intended to help you to understand the aims and intents of the Weightless licensing regime. It is not intended to replace or supersede in any way the Weightless Terminal Licensing Agreement which remains definitive. The full text of the agreement is available via the link at the bottom of this page. When you register as a Weightless Developer, or other class of Weightless SIG Member, these are the terms that you are agreeing to by checking the box on the registration form.

Weightless is an open standard which means that the intellectual property in the technology is available for you to use without paying a royalty charge. It does not matter if you sell ten products integrating components that use Weightless technology or ten million; you will not pay any royalty fee. Ever. There is a membership fee for Weightless Developers of GBP£900 p.a. (but you may well qualify for free membership - if you wish to discuss your exemption from this charge please contact us at info@weightless.org). Alternatively you may wish to request the LPWAN technology decisions: 17 critical features from this page and following the download you will automatically receive an email about exemption from the membership fee.

Why we charge a membership fee: As a non-profit organisation we are sometimes asked why we charge a membership fee. The Weightless SIG is a very large global community with thousands of members in the ecosystem across over 45 countries. There are considerable costs associated with legal, administrative, IT, accounts, communications and general corporate expenses. However, it is also a distributed, lean organisation with no shareholders and few directly salaried employees so our cost base is low. Our remit is to assist Weightless Developers worldwide and this support inevitably carries cost. We mitigate these costs through the levy of modest membership fees but we do not make a profit. As a Weightless Developer the fee you pay (unless you are exempt from payment) is negligible compared to the value of the intellectual property in the technology that you are licensed to use on a royalty free basis.

Overview

Weightless offers a “Fair, Reasonable And Non-Discriminatory” (FRAND) licensing regime. All Weightless licensees agree not to assert any IPR they have relevant to Weightless products against any other Weightless licensee in respect to their product development or manufacturing activities. Of course, a non-Weightless licensee may still assert IPR (from outside the Weightless SIG). Because of the non-assert concept it is not necessary for a licensee to identify any IPR they hold that is relevant.

Note that the IPR is in no way “given away”. The licensee can still assert their IPR against non-Weightless licensees or against Weightless licensees in respect of non-Weightless activities.

A licensee gives the right to “Weightless Contracting” to grant a licence to other licensees to make Weightless products.

It is worth explaining why the license is structured this way. It would be possible, as with Bluetooth, for a licensee to agree to give another licensee rights to relevant IPR “on request”.  However, this could lead to a number of problems. For example, if, say, an operator of a Weightless network was sued for IPR infringement they would need to apply to all other Weightless licensees for a letter or similar showing that they had the rights to use Weightless IP. With thousands of members all potentially seeking such letters from each other, some of whom may no longer be Weightless SIG Members etc., this could become bureaucratically unworkable. Another problem might occur if a licensee sold some of their IPR to another company outside of the Weightless community (i.e. a non Weightless SIG Member) who might then seek to gain royalties from it.

The use of Weightless Contracting is intended to prevent these problems since any licensee gains a license to all relevant IPR from one single entity.

The licensee effectively passes to Weightless Contracting the guarantee of non-assert for all the relevant IPR they held prior to becoming a licensee and that which they generate whilst a licensee. This non-assert remains in place even if they leave the Weightless SIG (although any IPR generated after they leave is not subject to this agreement). This must be so to protect other Weightless licensees. Otherwise a company could join Weightless, seek to have its IPR inserted into a Weightless technology Standard and then leave and seek to assert that IPR.

So, for example, if a company (“Company A”) joined the Weightless SIG and then sold a patent to a company outside of the Weightless SIG (“Company B”), then if Company B sought to assert rights against this patent it would become clear that it was filed by Company A prior to or during that company’s time as a Weightless licensee. As such, the agreement with Weightless Contracting would show that the rights to assert this IPR were waived and hence it could not be applied.

In summary, it must be remembered that this agreement is a matter of balancing the desire of licensees to exploit their IPR against the desire of licensees not to have others exploit their IPR against them. Licensees give up the rights to assert any relevant IPR they hold against other Weightless licensees in respect of their Weightless product development in return for a license to develop and sell Weightless products without needing to pay royalties to any other Weightless licensees. The agreement is designed to do this in a manner that minimises what a licensee gives up whilst providing them with the maximum level of protection from other licensees. Its purpose is not to attempt to extract valuable IPR from some companies in order to benefit others.

A successfully completed application for membership constitutes acceptance of the terms and conditions of the Weightless Terminal Licence Agreement as indicated by clicking the checkbox presented during the application process. It is essential that the terms and conditions of the Agreement are fully understood and that the individual completing the application process is fully authorised by the organisation he or she represents to undertake to commit that organisation to the legal obligations set out in the Agreement. By completing an application for Weightless SIG membership and clicking the relevant checkbox during the application process the registrant agrees that he is authorised to commit the Member organisation to the terms and conditions set out in the Weightless Terminal Licence Agreement and that these have been read and fully understood.

The full text of the Agreement is available below: