Recently, SoftBank came to the spotlight as it acquired around 200 patents including both granted and pending ones from Loon, a subsidiary of Alphabet Inc. for High Altitude Platform Stations (HAPs). It was an outcome of the parent company’s decision to shut down the stratospheric communications initiative known as Noon.
SoftBank and HAPs mobile plans to use this as a tool to accelerate the commercial HAPs services. Further they intend to utilize the IP portfolio of HAPs to promote standardization and interoperability between HAPs industry.1
The patents acquired includes network technologies, services, operations, aircrafts and other things for HAPs. Once the patents acquisition is completed HAPs mobiles and SoftBank would own atleast 500 patents. Also, for further work in the field relating to fleet management, navigation and launching they are proposing to use 270 patents free as a non- assertion pledge.2
In a statement issued on September 30, 2021, they said that Loon’s stratospheric wind and whether measurement measurements and electrical measurements collected by “stormtropper” would be made public.
HAPs mobile and Loon have a strong collaboration record. They even together funded the HAPs alliance and jointly completed the development of communications playload. This was used for delivering LTE connectivity from HAPs mobiles ‘sunglider’ which is a unmaned aircraft powered by solar system.
As on September 30, 2021, the number of alliance members in SoftBank is 44. The name and logo of SoftBank is registered in Japan and other countries under SoftBank Corp. Whereas HAPsmobile and sunglider is a registered trademark under their own respective names.
Researcher Dr. Ogbonnaya Anicho stated in a recent column ‘Via satellite’ that:-
“The rural connectivity market is challenging due to population density and buying power against the cost of providing the services. As Loon demonstrated, advanced technology alone is not sufficient, the economic fundamentals of demand and supply must be addressed.”3
The acquisition by SoftBank is in its connection to the commitment that it poses to support the development and promote the technological innovations of HAPs industry. The significance of it is huge in market.
- SoftBank Corp. Acquires High Altitude Platform Station (HAPS) Patents from Loon, SOFT BANK, (Nov 3, 2021, 5: 27 PM), https://www.softbank.jp/en/corp/news/press/sbkk/2021/20210930_03/.
- SoftBank Acquires Around 200 Patents From Loon, A Subsidiary Of Alphabet Inc. LEGAL BITES, (Nov 3, 2021, 5: 35 pm) https://www.mondaq.com/india/patent/1124744/softbank-acquires-around-200-patents-from-loon-a-subsidiary-of-alphabet-inc.
- Rachel Jewett, SoftBank acquires HAPs patents from Google’s loon, VIA SATELLITE, (Nov 3, 2021, 5: 53 pm), https://www.satellitetoday.com/broadband/2021/10/04/softbank-acquires-haps-patents-from-googles-loon/https://www.satellitetoday.com/broadband/2021/10/04/softbank-acquires-haps-patents-from-googles-loon/.