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Eye-Fi CEO says patented technology violated by Wireless LAN SD standard  
Friday, January 20, 2012 | by Rob Galbraith
At the opening of the CES trade show last week, the SD Association announced the Wireless LAN SD standard, an add-on to the specification for SD/SDHC/SDXC memory cards that provides a framework for incorporating Wi-Fi features.

Eye-Fi, which has been making SD and SDHC cards with embedded Wi-Fi for several years, subsequently told us that the SD Association's move was premature and hinted at the possibility of a legal response.

Now, Eye-Fi CEO Yuval Koren has issued a more detailed statement, one that echos the company's original position: that the new standard runs afoul of Eye-Fi's patents. He is also critical of the process by which the Wireless LAN SD standard came to be unveiled and says that "[a]ny company trying to claim that it is the first to adopt this specification is taking on the mantle of a standard that doesn’t exist."

Koren's statement is below. A previous article is here.

Press Release

The SDA’s iSDIO specification and standards process

Several years ago, Eye-Fi’s founding team realized that capturing photos or video is just the beginning, and that in an increasingly connected world, the true magic is in sharing.

We invested tens of millions of dollars and several years to create unique technology that lets people wirelessly transfer photos and videos directly from their camera and mobile devices.

Last week, the SD Association (SDA) announced that a draft Wireless LAN specification had been adopted as a new standard. This was a flat out misrepresentation. As a matter of fact, under the SDA’s own rules, this was not possible. SDA members – and we are one – are allowed 60 days in which to respond with claims to patented intellectual property and plans around licensing that IP to the SDA. Should essential IP be presented during this process, and not offered for license, the SDA should revise the specification and begin the review cycle again. After this process, the SDA Executive Members have to vote on adopting the specification.

Not only has the membership’s intellectual property disclosure window not closed, the Executive Members have also yet to vote on its adoption.

When we protested the action, the SDA’s executive director replied “the SD Association has often made announcements during the IP Review Period because once this phase of the process has been achieved the only thing that could possibly change is the licensing and not the technical details.”

This week, still in advance of the SDA-provided deadline, we disclosed our patented intellectual property to the SDA, detailing multiple Eye-Fi patents essential to the current SDA draft specification.

There is a process for the establishment of this kind of specification, and that process wasn’t respected. Any company trying to claim that it is the first to adopt this specification is taking on the mantle of a standard that doesn’t exist.

Currently, 10 top camera manufacturers work with us as part of the Eye-Fi connected program; dozens of leading photo-related sites connect to our service. It’s through these longstanding relationships that we’ve become the center of wireless connectivity among consumers, camera makers and photo-related sites.

The intellectual property at the core of this digital imaging revolution is our business. It’s what Eye-Fi is. And as currently written, essential Eye-Fi patented technology would be violated by anyone implementing this draft specification.

We respect the process as established by the SDA and we call upon the SDA to do the same.

Yuval Koren

The SD Association was formed twelve years ago by Panasonic, SanDisk and Toshiba to manage and evolve the Secure Digital memory card format. It now has about 1000 member companies, including Eye-Fi.
Related articles  
Related coverage of this topic includes:
  • Eye-Fi issues firmware v5.0008 for X2 cards (March 21, 2012)
  • Eye-Fi to SD Association: our intellectual property is not available (January 12, 2012)
  • Eye-Fi issues firmware update for X2 cards (January 11, 2012)
  • Embedded Wi-Fi functionality now part of SD standard (January 9, 2012)
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