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Embedded Technology

Technology or features designed into commercially available components, for example microprocessors (microchips). For example, economies of scale mean that chip makers do not like to design or create microchips for relatively small buyers – preferring to offer them existing “off the shelf” components. However, large scale purchasers can demand that a single component (i.e., chip) include multiple functions – for example, combining WiFi and Bluetooth in a single device, or voice and data functions in a single cellular baseband, solutions that offer economies to the large buyer. Often this combination will be demanded by large scale buyers who also hold essential patents on some of the embedded features. These components made for large scale buyers are then available to the smaller buyers “off the shelf” including “Embedded Technology” that the smaller buyer may want and use, or may have no interest in – but the component including it is cheaper than one without.

Thus a result of embedding technology is that it cannot readily be avoided by smaller scale buyers of a component (e.g., a microprocessor), even if they do not need or intend to use all of the features of the component. In effect a buyer may find that it has bought a product containing technology that it does not use that is subject to Essential Patents, or alternately that the implementation embedded in the only component that is commercially available infringes the patents of the large specifying buyer, even though not an Essential Patents and thus not subject to FRAND terms. Patents on such embedded technology thus become Near Essential Patents. Sometimes the embedded technology may be disabled by ‘metalling out.’

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