Eye-Fi CEO Unhappy With SD Association's Wireless LAN SD Standard

During CES 2012, the SD Association put forth a release that specified a new Wireless LAN SD standard that would effectively allow any company producing Secure Digital cards to embed Wi-Fi into their cards. At first blush, it sounds great. Unless you're Eye-Fi. The deal is pretty simple: Eye-Fi has been selling Wi-Fi SD cards for years now, and according to the company's CEO, they've invested "tens of millions" into the product line. As it turns out, the standard that the SD Association was pushing evidently taps into Eye-Fi technology, and the company is none too pleased about it. CEO Yuval Koren is calling the standard a "misrepresentation," and also calls for the SDA to either revise the spec or pay for licensing from Eye-Fi.

Many patent disputes in technology are admittedly petty, but this feels like one that could have teeth. When we read the SDA's proposal, we immediately thought of Eye-Fi. It's not shocking to hear of alleged overlap, and if they are indeed swiping Eye-Fi's patented technologies, something needs to be done. The entire CEO letter is below, and we're guessing it won't be long before the SDA reacts in some form.

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