MIPI Alliance periodically receives questions about how its legal policies apply in different circumstances. This post addresses questions we’ve received about how our policies apply to semiconductor IP vendors. It's also designed to explain the existing policy, as there have been no recent changes to MIPI Alliance legal terms. More information about this topic is also available in the Membership and IP Block Providers sections of the FAQs posted on the MIPI website.
Questions about MIPI membership and semiconductor IP vendors have come up in various configurations, such as:
IP vendors ask whether their customers must be MIPI members
Customers of IP vendors ask whether the vendor must be a MIPI member
Former members of MIPI ask about their rights to use MIPI materials post-termination
The simple answer to these questions is that MIPI Alliance membership is required to use MIPI intellectual property, subject to just a few limited exceptions.
Semiconductor IP vendors must be MIPI Alliance members in order to get access to the MIPI specifications needed to create an IP block that embodies a MIPI specification. Most MIPI Alliance specifications are confidential and only available to members.
IP block customers must be MIPI Alliance members to benefit from applicable patent licenses. The implementer of an IP block in a product is typically the party that creates the “Compliant Portion” described in the MIPI Alliance Membership Agreement. MIPI’s intellectual property terms require royalty-free licenses for applicable essential patent claims only by and among MIPI members, and only in connection with Compliant Portions.
Former members of MIPI have only very limited rights to use MIPI intellectual property post-termination. These rights focus on the disposition of those particular products and product components that the former member had already manufactured at the time of termination (for example, a semiconductor vendor may deplete its inventory).
Both the licensors and licensees of IP blocks embodying MIPI specifications benefit from all parties being current MIPI members. Licensors are able to freely disclose specification details to their licensees and can take comfort in knowing that their licensees are benefiting from the royalty-free patent license structure. Licensees can also be confident that they are receiving information that was rightfully obtained by their licensor.
Again, you can find additional details in the Membership and IP Block Providers sections of the MIPI Alliance FAQs page.