The DVB Project is reviewing its approach to intellectual property following the patent pool problems that impeded the deployment of its MHP interactive television standard. Among the changes in policy is a requirement that assertions of essentiality of patents included within a patent pool may be subject to peer review by DVB specialists.

Many in the industry have criticised the patent pool licensing arrangements associated with the Multimedia Home Platform. The lack of adoption of the standard has been partly attributed to these issues. Companies that contributed to the development of the standard claim “essential patents” associated with its implementation, but the process has been far from transparent.

The DVB patent pool policy commits members to grant licences to its intellectual property rights essential to DVB standards on fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory terms unless notice is given otherwise.

“It was our frustration with the MHP process and its results that sparked DVB’s policy review,” said Carter Eltzroth, the legal director of DVB. “The MHP pool took too long to complete and its results are surrounded by multiple layers of confidentiality.” The DVB lawyer claimed that “confidentiality rules within the MHP licensing programme have blocked any meaningful discussion with the patent holders or the pool administrator.”

Peter MacAvock, the executive director of DVB, said: “MHP has pointed to some flaws in the pooling process. Our IPR review is addressing these issues.”

DVB launched the review in response to concerns from members about the perceived delays and uncertainties in relation to the launch of the MHP licensing programme. The review has also addressed questions from the European Commission on the need for timely disclosure of licensing terms for essential intellectual property rights.