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UK, USA face off over GPS patent

UK: The UK military wants royalties on the modulation method used in the common GPS-Galileo transmission format. A USA and EU task force developed a common signal centred at 1575.42 MHz to be used as GPS L1C and Galileo E1 signals. The ‘multiplex binary offset carrier’ (MBOC) modulation combines 2 BOC signals to both overcome limitations of spectrum crowding and reduce multipath. The MBOC modulation technique may be adopted as the baseline for the EU Galileo and USA GPSIII signals and is designed to ensure compatibility between the two systems.

Ploughshare Innovations, a wholly owned subsidiary of the research and development division of the British Ministry of Defence (MoD), is asking for remuneration regarding a UK patent on MBOC. It is reported that Ploughshare is seeking royalties from GPS and Galileo receiver manufacturers regarding its UK patent on GNSS MBOC.

But the origins of the MBOC technique and the desirability of it being freely available are reportedly creating much international friction between the UK, EU and USA, especially in light of 2014 being scheduled to see GPS III satellites joining the constellation and Galileo achieving initial operations.

Source: RIN