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Everything You Always Wanted to Know About FRAND (But didn’t know who to ask)

The Standards Blog - Andrew Updegrove - The acronym “FRAND” is very much in the news today, and with good reason. The battle to control, or at least share in the bounty, of the mobile marketplace has motivated technology leviathans like Google, Samsung, Microsoft and Apple to bring every tool and weapon to the fore in order to avoid being left in the dust. So intense is the competition that not only standards, but the finer details relating to the pledging of patents to facilitate the implementation of standards, have become the subject of headlines in the technology press.

 The purpose of this blog post is not to report on the skirmishing that is still ongoing, but to peel off and explain the multiple layers of nuance and tactical opportunity that underlie the seemingly simple concept of “FRAND.” How many layers? Let’s just say that you may lose count before we cover everything you need to know to make sense out of what is really going on behind the scenes.

Given the complexity of the subject, I’ll revert to a device I picked up from Stephen O’Grady at Redmonk - the self-interview – because I’ve found it to be a very useful way to cover material that is not only complicated, but which also needs to be related to specific events in the news. So here we go.