Frequently Asked Questions

MIPI Alliance Background and Objectives:

What is the goal of the MIPI Alliance?
What does "MIPI" stand for?
How do you pronounce MIPI?
Who heads up the initiative?
What progress has been achieved since the initiative was originally launched?
What problem is MIPI trying to solve, exactly?
I hear MIPI described as focusing on a mobile scope—how does MIPI define “Mobile Scope?”
What is a mobile device?
Will MIPI always be restricted to mobile device application processors or do you plan to expand the concept into other areas?

Specifications, Technology, Products and Applications

In very simple terms, what are hardware and software interfaces to application processors?
What is the result of standardizing these hardware and software interfaces? What is the benefit of such standardization?
Are any MIPI specifications available yet? If not, when will they become available?
How will MIPI specifications be made available?
Why is the PHY specification independent of the camera and display specifications?
What product categories will the MIPI Standard influence?
What are serial interfaces and why are they important?
What is an Application Processor?
What is an Open OS (Operating System)?
Will the MIPI Alliance define a new set of API's that must be adopted by a MIPI- compliant OS?
Is the MIPI Alliance agnostic about air interface standards?
Will MIPI-based products be interchangeable?
Are the internal architecture and bus structures covered by MIPI Specs?
What is the exact definition of a mobile terminal?
Are E-books considered a mobile terminal? Or, Are digital single lens reflex/digital still camera (DSLR/DSC) products covered? Or, Are the displays my company manufactures for the automotive market considered a mobile terminal? etc.
Does MIPI deprecate Specifications?
Does MIPI create Errata documents for its Specifications?
Our Company has a customer interested in buying our product, which implements a MIPI specification. Can I furnish a copy of that specification to the customer?

Structure and Membership

Where is MIPI located?
The MIPI website lists an address at IEEE. Did MIPI become part of IEEE?
Who can join the MIPI Alliance?
Who has joined the MIPI Alliance?
Is it too late to join MIPI? Is there a deadline for joining MIPI?
How do you join the MIPI Alliance?
How much does it cost to join the MIPI Alliance?
Why are there different levels of membership in the MIPI Alliance?
My company is an Adopter level Member and we’re considering upgrading to Contributor level. What would change?
What are the levels of membership in the MIPI Alliance?
What is the structure of the board of the MIPI Alliance?
Which companies write the specifications?
Are MIPI Members required to license their intellectual property to other Members?
Do you have a document that clarifies the MIPI licensing agreement?
I just learned that my company’s subsidiary is also a Member of MIPI—what extra rights do I enjoy because both companies are Members?

Industry Impact

There seem to be many standards in the mobile industry. How does MIPI fit in?
Specifications are one thing, but how can MIPI be confident that adoption of these specifications is broad enough to make them a standard?
When will products be available which implement MIPI interfaces?
What are the benefits of MIPI to the mobile industry?

Patent Licensing, Payments and Licensing Objections

What licensing benefits are provided to MIPI Members?
What are the royalty fees that MIPI charges for interfaces outside mobile terminals?
What patent rights do new members give up when they join MIPI Alliance?
What kind of licenses are these?
What are the licensing model differences between mobile and non-mobile uses of IPs?
Do the licenses involve the payment of money or other compensation, like royalties as an example?
Does the MIPI Membership Agreement cover licenses for Compliant Portions outside the Mobile Terminal?
What IP royalty obligations can a member company expect to incur if RAND licensing applies to the intended use?
Is it possible for MIPI Members who are negotiating RAND licenses to agree that the licenses should be without compensation?
Are there any patents that conflict with the current CSI-2 specification?
My company’s legal department says there is a chance that our non-mobile customers may need to pay royalty (or be sued). Do I need to get a license agreement with each MIPI member for non-mobile applications?
Who has to pay for the MIPI interface royalties – the silicon vendor or the OEM?
How do I find out who we need to pay (and how much) for the use of a MIPI interface outside of mobile terminals?
We are considering using a bridge chip, but I don’t know whether we can convert it to MIPI for free or still need to pay royalty?

Usage Outside Mobile Terminals

I have heard that CSI-2 is limited by agreement with MIPI to be used only in the camera phone space. Is that true? Is there another reason I don’t see it being used in other markets?
Can the MIPI DigRF interface be used for automotive applications? Are there licensing or royalty fees associated with implementation?
Is the MIPI DSI limited to only mobile phones? Is it allowed to be used in notebook PCs? We have heard it is prohibited to be used other than in phones.
Can an OEM be blocked from shipping products that implement a MIPI interface in non-mobile applications?>

Confidentiality

Are MIPI Specifications confidential?
Is the confidentiality obligation limited to Specifications?
Can a Member ever disclose the content of a MIPI Specification?
What about customers?
What is the purpose in allowing this?
How much can be disclosed?
Who can advise a Member about how much and when disclosure is okay?
What if a Member feels a disclosure is important and in the best interests of MIPI but it isn’t specifically mentioned in the disclosure policy?
When a MIPI Specification is implemented can the source code of the implementation software be disclosed (such as may be the case of open source software)?
My company is a MIPI Member and owns a subsidiary that makes related products. My colleague at the subsidiary wants to examine a MIPI Spec. Do they have to join MIPI separately, or am I allowed to provide the document to them?
Bottom line, what can happen within MIPI if a Member violates the confidentiality terms of the MIPI membership?

PCI-SIG and MIPI Alliance Liaison Agreement

What are you announcing today?
What is the function of the new PCI-SIG specification?
What problem does this specification solve?
What applications are targeted with this specification?
Who will use this specification?
Why did PCI SIG and MIPI Alliance enter into this agreement now?
When do you anticipate that chipset providers will need the specification?
When will the specification be complete?
What companies drove this initiative?
What impact will this specification have on the market?
Will this solution be available in software or hardware only?
Will all of the connections be in the phone, or will some of them be off the phone, such as USB?
How will the two groups work together?
Will non-MIPI members be able to use the new specification?
How will royalties be handled?

Test Working Group

What are you announcing today?
How will this group benefit MIPI members?
What specifications will the group target?
Who can participate in the group?
Is this different from other MIPI Working Groups?
What will the Test WG do?
What is “out of scope” for the Test WG?
How will the Test WG work with the other WGs?
How will the Test WG work with the Board of Directors (BoD)?
How are interoperability events determined?
Who can participate in interoperability events?
My company provides test services. How can I get involved in interoperability events?

Test Policy

What is the MIPI Alliance Test policy?
Does MIPI Alliance have a compliance program?
Does MIPI Alliance endorse any test or interoperability activities?
How are test documents approved?

 

MIPI Alliance Background and Objectives

Q: What is the goal of the MIPI Alliance?
A: To benefit the mobile industry by establishing specifications for standard hardware and software interfaces in mobile devices and encouraging the adoption of those standards throughout the ecosystem. Implementations of MIPI Specs have proved beneficial outside of mobile devices and are increasingly used. 
 

Q: What does "MIPI" stand for?
A: MIPI is not an acronym and has no specific meaning. MIPI Alliance is focused on developing interface specifications for mobile devices. Proper usage of MIPI are as follows:
MIPI Alliance -- The organization.
MIPI Member – Any company who joins the MIPI Alliance.
MIPI Specification -- A specification adopted by the MIPI Alliance.

Q: How do you pronounce MIPI?
A: “mippee”.
 

Q: Who heads up the initiative?
A: Intel, Nokia, Samsung, STMicroelectronics, Texas Instruments & Toshiba are the current Board member companies that lead the organization. Working Groups are chaired by individuals from a variety of member companies. IEEE-ISTO is contracted to provide administration for the Alliance.
 

Q: What progress has been achieved since the initiative was originally launched?
A: MIPI Alliance has completed specifications in the areas of physical interface (D-PHY and M-PHY), camera (CSI), display (DSI and DCS), battery interface (BIF), test and debug parallel trace interface, system trace protocol, system power management interface (SPMI), RFIC to baseband IC interface (DigRFSM), and RF Front End (RFFE), low latency interfaces between processors (LLI), processor interface emulation (PIE), high-speed synchronous interface (HSI) physical layer, serial low-power inter-chip media bus (SLIMbus®), unified protocol (UniProSM), and descriptor and configuration data transfer (DDB). These specifications are currently being adopted across a broad range of mobile terminal products. Various other specifications are under development.
 

Q: What problem is MIPI trying to solve, exactly?
A: In a word: fragmentation. The mobile industry suffers from too many interfaces which are incompatible yet typically not differentiated. This leads to incompatibility between products, redundant engineering investments to maintain multiple interface technologies, and ultimately higher costs (but most likely not higher margins/value). MIPI intends to reduce this fragmentation by developing attractive targets for convergence which have technical and intellectual property rights benefits over proprietary alternatives.
 

Q: I hear MIPI described as focusing on a mobile scope—how does MIPI define "mobile scope?"
A:Mobile scope is an informal name for the variety of products that have implementations of a MIPI Specification that are inside a Mobile Terminal or Accessory as defined in the Membership Agreement; implementations that do not fit this description are outside this scope.
 

Q: What is a mobile device?
A: A common example would be a mobile phone or smartphone. MIPI often uses the more general term "mobile device" to reflect an increasing diversity in the types of "connected" products which are entering the marketplace, many of which may differ substantially from a traditional mobile phone.
 

Q: Will MIPI always be restricted to mobile device application processors or do you plan to expand the concept into other areas?
A: MIPI is focused on the application engine and associated peripherals in mobile devices, but the use of MIPI Specifications is not necessarily limited to these products. Considering the constant evolution of product categories and the number of member companies who are active in multiple market segments, MIPI interfaces may be utilized in other related products. However, MIPI is not involved in defining standards for market segments already well-served by existing standards bodies and consortia.
 

Specifications, Technology, Products and Applications

Q: In very simple terms, what are hardware and software interfaces to application processors?
A: A processor or system-on-a-chip typically has several ports or busses which interface to a variety of peripherals such as displays, cameras, memory, or communications devices. In the context of MIPI, specifications for such hardware interfaces will impact both the processors and the peripheral devices. These standard hardware interfaces may also impact low-level software which abstracts hardware resources from the higher-level software such as applications and operating systems.
 

Q: What is the result of standardizing these hardware and software interfaces? What is the benefit of such standardization?
A: Standard interfaces will yield greatly improved interoperability between peripherals, application processors, and system-on-a-chip products from multiple vendors. Development time and effort will be reduced for all companies in the value chain, because less time and effort will be redundantly invested in proprietary solutions. This will enable the industry to re-focus valuable resources into other areas which bring more direct benefit to consumers .
 

Q: Are any MIPI specifications available yet? If not, when will they become available?
A: MIPI Alliance has a rich portfolio of specifications which are released and adopted in the market. An overview of these specifications are available on the specifications portion of the website.
 

Q: How will MIPI specifications be made available?
A: MIPI Alliance will publish its specifications as defined in its Bylaws, which currently limits distribution only to member companies. MIPI Alliance membership has been structured so that all companies in the mobile industry can join and participate.
 

Q: Why is the PHY specification independent of the camera and display specifications?
A: MIPI determined that this separation of tasks was the most optimal use of MIPI resources and MIPI member company resources. For MIPI, this enabled efficient use of expert participants’ time and produced a single PHY specification which would be re-used by multiple interface specifications. For member companies, much of their investment in PHY implementation can be re-used for camera, display and future interface implementations .
 

Q: What product categories will the MIPI Standard influence?
A: The MIPI Alliance is primarily focused on mobile devices and similar application-rich, networked devices, although MIPI Specifications may prove useful in other product categories .
 

Q: What are serial interfaces and why are they important?
A: Serial interfaces typically reduce the number of pins, wires, or printed circuit conductors used to carry a signal. In a simple example, instead of a parallel interface simultaneously sending a bit of data thru 8 different pins, a serial interface could send the same 8 bits, consecutively, thru a single wire. This reduction in signal paths can be critical to mobile device design constraints, such as moving signals thru a flexible connector used in the hinge of a flip-phone. Such flexible connectors are often very limited in the number of wires/signals they can carry, so using serial interfaces allows more components on one side of the hinge to be connected to other components on the opposite side of the hinge. Other features typically found in serial interfaces, such as differential signaling, bring many benefits to other mobile device design challenges like electro-magnetic noise and interference. Hence, there is a trend toward serial interfaces in many areas of electronics .
 

Q: What is an Application Processor?
A: Application processor is a term often used to describe the microprocessor based system-on-a-chip (SoC) which runs applications in a mobile product. Typically it runs an OS (Operating System) and is independent of other processors(s) which may manage the wireless modem, though there are exceptions to these cases.
 

Q: What is an OS (Operating System)?
A: An OS is a high-level operating system that provides application engines and a execution environment as well as a scheduler. Typically the Open OS uses the MMU (Memory Management Unit) in an application processor.
 

Q: Will the MIPI Alliance define a new set of API's that must be adopted by a MIPI- compliant OS?
A: No. The MIPI Alliance has no plans to specify operating system requirements.
 

Q: Is the MIPI Alliance agnostic about air interface standards?
A: Yes. MIPI Specifications address the interface between application processors and associated peripherals. Interfaces based on MIPI Specifications could be used in products supporting any network such as GSM, CDMA2000, WCDMA, PHS, TD-SCDMA, etc.
 

Q: Will MIPI-based products be interchangeable?
A: MIPI Specifications will define characteristics of certain common interfaces, not entire application processors or peripherals, so it is unlikely that MIPI-Compliant products from different manufacturers would be pin-compatible.
 

Q: Are the internal architecture and bus structures covered by MIPI Specs?
A: No, the MIPI Alliance is only focused on interfaces among processors and peripherals. Application processor and peripheral vendors are free to develop unique and differentiated products, including proprietary internal architectures and bus structures. MIPI-specified interfaces will simply improve the inter-connectivity of these devices.
 

Q: What is the exact definition of a mobile terminal?
A: This term is defined in the MIPI Membership Agreement (MA). See in particular §1.6, which says:

‘“Mobile Terminal” means a mobile or handheld device that incorporates as a standard function wireless voice communication capability according to a telecommunications standard adopted either by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) or other SDO as agreed by Unanimous (as defined in the Bylaws) consent of the Board.”

For the purpose of the licensing as stated in the Membership Agreement, the same terms apply to a mobile “Accessory,” which is also defined in the MA in §1.1 as:

“Accessory” means an accessory to a Mobile Terminal that provides functional enhancements to the core functionality of the Mobile Terminal and that is primarily designed, developed, and marketed for use with a Mobile Terminal.

Q: Are E-books considered a mobile terminal? or Are digital single lens reflex/digital still camera (DSLR/DSC) products covered? or Are the displays my company manufactures for the automotive market considered a mobile terminal? etc.
A: These and similar questions are examples of attempts to determine whether a particular product falls within the licensing provisions in the Membership Agreement, and if so, whether MIPI so-called “mobile scope” licensing for Mobile Terminals and Accessories will apply or whether RAND licensing will apply outside that mobile scope.

In general, this determination is based on how the product implementing a MIPI Specification is designed and marketed, whether the product is Compliant to the requirements of the Specification, and whether the product is in a Mobile Terminal or Accessory. In general, by way of one example, if a system is one that a) a person can carry in his or her hand, b) is battery powered, and b) uses one of several international Standards for wireless voice communication as a standard function of the device, most people would consider that system to be a Mobile Terminal, and therefore MIPI “mobile scope” licensing should apply.

Unfortunately, it’s not possible to answer this question for every product without a great deal of knowledge about the product. We therefore suggest you consult your company counsel, who is better suited to evaluate the circumstances.
 

Q: Does MIPI deprecate Specifications?
A: If the term “deprecate” is intended to mean “change from authorized status to non-authorized and remove from active distribution,” no, MIPI does not deprecate Specifications.

Once a Specification is adopted, it remains available to current MIPI Members, who possess rights and obligations provided in the Membership Agreement. If a Member withdraws from MIPI, some of those rights and obligations survive, per the Membership Agreement.

MIPI periodically updates Specifications with corrections and improvements, and does make recommendations to its Members that they should implement newer Specifications instead of older ones.

Accordingly, if the term “deprecate” is intended to mean making recommendations concerning documents to “indicate that they should be avoided, typically because they have been superseded,” yes, MIPI does sometimes make those recommendations, but they do not affect Member rights and responsibilities under the Membership agreement. [Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deprecation]
 

Q: Does MIPI create Errata documents for its Specifications?
A: No. MIPI Working Groups occasionally discuss changes they expect to make in a future update to a Specification, although these discussions and related documents are informative only and do not set normative requirements.

If a Working Group intends to set normative requirements, they create a Draft Specification, which follows the formal Review process where Contributor and Board level Member Companies enjoy rights and responsibilities during the Draft Reviews.
 

Q. Our Company has a customer interested in buying our product, which implements a MIPI specification. Can I furnish a copy of that specification to the customer?
A. All MIPI specifications are confidential and cannot be shared with non-Members unless allowed by the MIPI Board of Directors. However, MIPI’s Board has adopted a policy that permits such disclosure:

  1. To employees and/or contractors with a need to know for the development of compliant products.
  2. To develop and/or help sales of the Member’s compliant products (see important note below); or
  3. To provide support documentation for the Member’s products.

NOTE: Only so much of the specification can be shared as is relevant for the development or sale of compliant products. Also, disclosure must include the MIPI copyright notice as contained in the specification plus certain required language. The full text of this policy can be found in the MIPI website, available to MIPI Members.
 

 

Structure and Membership

Q: Where is MIPI located?
A: Like many contemporary organizations, the MIPI Alliance is a global, “virtual” entity. As such, there are currently no plans to define a physical location unless future activities require it. For legal and tax reasons the MIPI Alliance is incorporated in the State of Delaware, USA. Administrative support of the MIPI Alliance is provided through IEEE-ISTO in Piscataway, NJ ( USA).
 

Q: The MIPI website lists an address at IEEE. Did MIPI become part of IEEE?
A: No. The MIPI Alliance has contracted the IEEE Industry Standards and Technology Organization (ISTO) to provide administrative support for our organization. MIPI remains an independent, not-for-profit corporate entity.
 

Q: Who can join the MIPI Alliance?
A: Any company can join MIPI, but current membership reflects the following segments of the mobile industry :
• Mobile Device Manufacturers
• Semiconductor Companies
• Software vendors
• Peripheral manufacturers
• IP providers
• Others
 

Q: Who has joined the MIPI Alliance?
A: An up-to-date list of MIPI's member companies can be found in the Membership Directory..
 

Q: Is it too late to join MIPI? Is there a deadline for joining MIPI?
A: Any company may join MIPI at any time. There is no plan to limit the number of members, nor is there any intention to create a deadline after which companies may not apply. MIPI intends to benefit the entire mobile industry.
 

Q: How do you join the MIPI Alliance?
A: Membership requires signing a Membership Agreement and paying membership dues. To become a member, go to the How to Join page.
 

Q: How much does it cost to join the MIPI Alliance?
A: The fee structure scales with levels of membership and currently ranges from $4,000 to $40,000. Member fees are discounted for smaller companies to minimize obstacles to membership. The current membership fees are on the Membership Model page.
 

Q: Why are there different levels of membership in the MIPI Alliance?
A: Different companies place different value on membership depending on their markets, resources, strategies, etc. Multi-level membership addresses this by providing several different levels of involvement to match any individual company’s needs. For example, some companies have the desire and resources to influence specifications. Others may simply want access to the specifications once they are published.
 

Q: What are the levels of membership in the MIPI Alliance?
A: The MIPI Alliance has three levels of Membership: Adopters, Contributors and Board Members .
• Adopter Members receive access to MIPI Specifications and have various rights and obligations regarding development of products which implement those specifications, including patent license rights and obligations .
• Contributor Members have the rights and obligations of Adopter Members, plus the opportunity to participate in the working groups.
• Board Members have all rights and obligations of a Contributor Member plus a voting board seat.
 

Q: My company is an Adopter level Member and we’re considering upgrading to Contributor level. What would change?
A: Contributors in MIPI are always allowed to participate in Working Groups and Investigation Groups, to participate in Draft Specification development, access all documents either in progress within or available to Groups, and participate in consensus decisions as well as formal votes when meeting the requisite attendance criteria. Contributors may volunteer participants to serve as Group leaders. Contributor companies may also periodically petition the Board to participate in the Technical Steering Group; the Board evaluates and may approve or deny these requests.

Contributor companies also enjoy the rights and obligations associated with the MIPI Specification adoption process, as described in the Bylaws in Article X (ten).

See the Membership Model page for more information.
 

Q: What is the structure of the board of the MIPI Alliance?
A: Today the board of MIPI Alliance, Inc. consists of representatives from six companies: Intel, Nokia, Samsung, STMicroelectronics, Texas Instruments & Toshiba. The Bylaws allow for additional board members to be elected by the board.
 

Q: Which companies write the specifications?
A: Many Board and Contributor member companies collaborate in the development of MIPI specifications, including most of the leading suppliers of semiconductor companies, software vendors, IP providers, peripheral manufacturers, test labs and end product OEMs. MIPI specifications typically reflect multiple technology submissions from multiple companies.
   

Q: Are MIPI Members required to license their intellectual property to other Members?
A: Members have both rights and obligations regarding narrowly defined intellectual property relating directly to MIPI Specifications. These obligations are defined in the MIPI Membership Agreement, and are consistent with many similar consortia-style standards organizations.
 

Q: Do you have a document that clarifies the MIPI licensing agreement?
A: The Membership Agreement (“MA”)provides for the license; there is no supplemental document. Please consult your company counsel for advice upon which you should base business decisions.

MIPI also provides some general “Frequently Asked Questions” (such as this list) that you might find useful, but the extent and nature of licensing is described in the MA.
 

Q: I just learned that my company’s subsidiary is also a Member of MIPI. What extra rights do I enjoy because both companies are Members?
A: Companies that your company owns or controls (by at least a majority) are considered “Affiliates” by MIPI and automatically enjoy the same rights and obligations as the primary Member. Similarly, if a company owns or controls (by least a majority) your company, they are also an Affiliate of you as the primary MIPI Member. For the definition of “Affiliate,” see the MIPI Bylaws.

In the situation above, both Member companies are Affiliates of the other. Since Affiliates enjoy all the rights and responsibilities of the Member, if one of the companies participates in MIPI at a “lower” membership level than the other, both are entitled to the rights and responsibilities of the “higher” level.

Note that as discussed in the MIPI Bylaws, Affiliates are not entitled to an additional vote in formal MIPI decisions; only one ballot may be cast for a Member and all its Affiliates in a vote, even if there are multiple memberships.

 

Industry Impact


Q: There seem to be many standards in the mobile industry. How does MIPI fit in?
A: The MIPI Alliance is focused on driving progress toward making new services - and the application-rich devices which enable them - available more quickly and broadly.
 

Q: Specifications are one thing, but how can MIPI be confident that adoption of these specifications is broad enough to make them a standard?
A: The depth of MIPI membership – currently 180+ companies representing virtually all segments of the industry -- strongly suggests that there is more than ample support in the mobile industry to establish MIPI Specifications as the standards in their respective technology solutions. In fact, numerous specifications can be found in devices in the market today. Future product introductions are likely to further reinforce this expectation.
 

Q: When will products be available which implement MIPI interfaces?
A: Numerous chips and components incorporating MIPI specifications can be found in mobile devices available on the market today.
 

Q: What are the benefits of MIPI to the mobile industry?
A: Development cycles and design complexity will be reduced at mobile device manufacturers, semiconductor companies, and software companies. Service providers will face fewer obstacles and lower costs in deploying new services and products. Consumers will enjoy access to more compelling services at a faster rate.
 

Patent Licensing & Payments

Important Notes:

  • MIPI Alliance does not provide legal opinions and has no official interpretation of language of the MIPI Membership Agreement and MIPI Bylaws. As a matter of normal practice, MIPI requests that companies consult with their own legal counsel for interpretation of clauses in the documents and their application to company concerns.
  • MIPI does not research or track intellectual property, nor does MIPI require disclosure of IP from its Members, so MIPI is not able to answer these questions concerning Member IP, etc. MIPI disclaims any obligation to investigate or inquire into the existence or validity of any intellectual property rights of its Members or of non-Members.

Q: What licensing benefits are provided to MIPI Members?
A: MIPI Member companies are entitled to important benefits and owe certain obligations to all other Members. Among these are duties to share through licensing the benefits of their world-wide patent protected intellectual property ("IPR"), including IPR claimed in patent applications. These obligations are defined in the MIPI Membership Agreement which is signed by MIPI and every Member company, binding on the Member and all its Affiliates. These claims are licensed by each Member to every other Member (including in each case all Affiliates).
 

Q: What are the royalty fees that MIPI charges for interfaces outside mobile terminals?
A: MIPI charges no royalties of any sort.

MIPI Members pay annual dues to be Members of the organization, but there are no royalties paid to MIPI.
 

Q: What patent rights do new members give up when they join MIPI Alliance?
A: None. In choosing to join MIPI, a company willingly enters into a contract when signing the Membership Agreement. Signing the Membership Agreement does not constitute an assignment of patent rights.

This contract provides for the granting and receiving of licenses as provided for in the Membership Agreement. Members also contract through the Membership Agreement to provide and enjoy RAND licensing for products outside of mobile scope.
 

Q: What kind of license is provided for in the Membership Agreement?
A: These licenses are "worldwide, non-exclusive, non-sublicensable, non-transferable (except as provided in Section 7.10)" of the MIPI Membership Agreement to do the things normally associated with broad licenses.
 

Q: What are the licensing model differences between mobile and non-mobile uses of IPs?
A: The most significant difference for most companies between the licensing models relates to whether royalty payments must be made. Inside mobile terminals and accessories as defined, the license is royalty-free. Outside, RAND licensing applies, which is generally understood to mean with or without compensation.

Other differences will relate to the terms Member companies agree to provide each other for non-mobile uses. These are determined by the parties involved; MIPI is not involved in those negotiations or communications.
 

Q: Do the licenses involve the payment of money or other compensation, like royalties as an example?
A: If the licenses are for Compliant Portions (defined in the MIPI Membership Agreement ) inside a Mobile Terminal (also defined in the MIPI Membership Agreement) or in certain components or accessories, no compensation can be required of the licensee. However, see the next question.
 

Q: Does the MIPI Membership Agreement cover licenses for Compliant Portions outside the Mobile Terminal?
A: The MIPI Membership Agreement provides that if the Compliant Portions are NOT IN a Mobile Terminal, the license required by the MIPI Membership Agreement must be on RAND (reasonable and nondiscriminatory) terms, which generally is taken to mean with or without compensation.
 

Q: What IP royalty obligations can a member company expect to incur if RAND licensing applies to the intended use?
A: This is determined by negotiations between the licensor and licensee. MIPI is not involved in those negotiations or communications.
 

Q: Is it possible for MIPI Members who are negotiating Reasonable And Non-Discriminatory (RAND) licenses to agree that the licenses should be without compensation?
A: Yes, but that is a matter for the parties to the negotiation to decide.
 

Q: Are there any patents that conflict with MIPI specifications, like the CSI-2 Specification?
A: MIPI does not know, since MIPI does not research or track intellectual property of Members or non-Members.
 

Q: My company’s legal department says there is a chance that our non-mobile customers may need to pay royalty (or be sued). Do I need to get a license agreement with each MIPI member for non-mobile applications?
A: A license agreement between your company and each and every MIPI Member is unlikely to be needed but MIPI cannot answer the question definitively since Member intellectual properties need not be disclosed to MIPI by Members.

It may be that one or more MIPI Members do have applicable patent claims, and you might need to arrange terms per the provisions in the Membership agreement. As discussed in Question #1 in the “IP/Patents” section of this FAQ, MIPI does not have knowledge of the intellectual property of its Members, and disclaims any obligation to inquire for such information. See that FAQ item for more detail.
 

Q: Who has to pay for the MIPI interface royalties – the silicon vendor or the OEM customer?
A: Inside mobile scope, as defined by the Membership Agreement’s definitions of Mobile Terminals and Accessories, Members provide each other a royalty free license. Outside mobile scope, Members provide RAND terms to one another and the financial terms are not pre-determined.

Typically, companies that implement MIPI Specifications will provide any required royalties. Customers who buy products that implement MIPI Specifications typically would not need to pay an additional set of royalties.
 

Q: How do I find out who we need to pay (and how much) for the use of a MIPI interface outside of mobile terminals?
A: Per the provisions in the Membership Agreement, (MA) Membership in MIPI does provide that among Members, RAND terms will be made available, but as discussed in questions above, MIPI neither controls nor participates in licensing negotiations among Members and does not research or track which patents or intellectual property might be applicable.
 

Q: We are considering using a bridge chip, but I don’t know whether we can convert it to MIPI for free or still need to pay royalty?
A: These and similar questions depend on many details requiring intimate knowledge of the products and the transactions involved. As with so many of these questions, it is appropriate to consult company counsel.

For implementations of MIPI Specifications in mobile products as defined in the MA §1.6, Members provide royalty free licenses to each other. Outside “mobile scope,” Member companies enjoy the provision of RAND terms.
 

Usage Outside Mobile Terminals


Q: I have heard that CSI-2 is limited by agreement with MIPI to be used only in the camera phone space. Is that true? Is there another reason I don’t see it being used in other markets?
A: We are unaware of any such agreement.

There is nothing that would make CSI-2 different from any other MIPI Specification in this regard.

Inside mobile scope, licensing provided by the Membership Agreement applies. Outside mobile scope, Members agree to Reasonable And Non-Discriminatory (RAND) licensing terms between themselves.
 

Q: Can the MIPI DigRF interface be used for automotive applications? Are there licensing or royalty fees associated with implementation?
A: Similarly to the question above in this category, licensing as provided by the Membership Agreement applies inside mobile scope and RAND licensing between Members applies outside mobile scope.

See also the related questions about mobile scope and RAND licensing in the “Patent Licensing, Payments and Licensing Objections” category above.
 

Q: Is the MIPI DSI limited to only mobile phones? Is it allowed to be used in notebook PCs? We have heard it is prohibited to be used other than in phones.
A: Similarly to the questions above in this category, licensing as provided by the Membership Agreement applies inside mobile scope and RAND licensing between Members applies outside mobile scope.
 

Q: Can an OEM be blocked from shipping products that implement a MIPI interface in non-mobile applications?
A: Similarly to the questions above in this category, all Members may design and market products that implement a MIPI Specification in any market they wish. Inside mobile scope, Members provide each other with royalty-free licensing terms. Outside mobile scope, there’s a guarantee of RAND terms between Members.
 

Confidentiality


Q: Are MIPI Specifications confidential?
A: Yes. All MIPI Members are bound to preserve the confidentiality of MIPI Specifications. The term confidential is defined.and certain exceptions are described, in Section 4 of the MIPI Membership Agreement. Review that Section for the details.
 

Q: Is the confidentiality obligation limited to Specifications?
A: No, it extends to the confidential information generated through all MIPI activities of MIPI.
 

Q: Can a Member ever disclose the content of a MIPI Specification?
A: Yes. For example, disclosure may be made to employees and contractors who have a need to know and are bound by confidentiality obligations (reference disclosure policy noted later).
 

Q: What about customers?
A: There may also be disclosure to customers "as part of Member’s product for the purpose of developing and selling products complying with the MIPI Specification(s)”. Such must likewise agree to keep the information confidential. 

 

 

Q: What is the purpose in allowing this?
A: To assist Members in providing information useful in MIPI compliant product development or to provide support documentation for the Member's products.
 

Q: How much can be disclosed?
A: Only so much disclosure as is required in the good faith judgment of the Member. This is all described in detail in the MIPI Policy on Disclosure by MIPI Members of Board adopted MIPI Specifications. But read the disclosure policy carefully. Even when permitted there are important special requirements in the event of disclosure.
 

Q: Who can advise a Member about how much and when disclosure is okay?
A: Members should seek the advice of their own Company counsel.
 

Q: What if a Member feels a disclosure is important and in the best interests of MIPI but it isn’t specifically mentioned in the disclosure policy?
A: Request permission from the MIPI Board.
 

Q: When a MIPI Specification is implemented can the source code of the implementation software be disclosed (such as may be the case of open source software)?
A: Yes. But the Specification itself may not be disclosed unless otherwise allowed. Consult the MIPI Policy on Source Code Disclosures.
 

Q: My company is a MIPI Member and owns a subsidiary that makes related products. My colleague at the subsidiary wants to examine a MIPI Spec. Do they have to join MIPI separately, or am I allowed to provide the document to them?
A: As discussed in the “Structure and Membership” section above, the subsidiary company is an Affiliate of your company. You would be allowed to provide the document to the colleague at the Affiliate, although MIPI encourages all active users to have their own user accounts on the MIPI Members Web site, where you colleague could access the document directly.
 

Q: Bottom line, what can happen within MIPI if a Member violates the confidentiality terms of the MIPI membership?
A: It could lead to suspension or termination of membership. See the MIPI Bylaws Article IV, Section 3 (d).
 

PCI-SIG and MIPI Alliance Liaison Agreement

Q: What are you announcing today?
A: MIPI Alliance and the PCI-SIG today announced a Liaison Agreement specific to a new PCI-SIG specification that supports PCI Express (PCIe) over the MIPI Alliance M-PHY®.
 

Q: What is the function of the new PCI-SIG specification?
A: Both groups will work together to facilitate the adaptation of the PCIe architecture to operate on the M-PHY physical layer. This new specification will provide a robust I/O architecture for ultra-low power solutions. Specifically, PCI-SIG proposes to use the M-PHY physical layer, combined with the PCIe data link and transaction layer to create new application opportunities.
 

Q: What problem does this specification solve?
A: Gigabit wireless applications, including 802.11ac and Wi-Gig, require a proven, multi-Gbps mobile I/O platform. This specification would combine a proven PCIe protocol with the preferred M-PHY physical layer and broad OS support. MIPI’s M-PHY also brings an exceptionally low power and bandwidth scalable offering to previously PC-focused devices. Finally, M-PHY provides support for asymmetric data rates, dynamic bandwidth support, and optical links external connectivity up to 5 meters, in an EMI/RFI friendly environment.
 

Q: What applications are targeted with this specification?
A: Initially, the specification will target high-end Smartphone and tablet applications. The technology will also be suitable for mid-range and mainstream phone, tablet and mobile devices, as well as wireless and external connectivity chips in the future.
 

Q: Who will use this specification?
A: OEMs/ODMs who manufacture high-end Smartphones, tablets and mobile devices, mobile wireless connectivity chipset suppliers and mobile SoC chipset providers.
 

Q: Why did PCI SIG and MIPI Alliance enter into this agreement now?
A: Both groups believe that the need for such a specification is becoming increasingly important. By entering into this agreement today, both groups can have the specification ready for mobile SoC chipset providers and wireless connectivity chipset providers when they need it.
 

Q: When do you anticipate that chipset providers will need the specification?
A: Some early projections indicate that a specification will be needed by 2013 for implementation in 2014 smartphones and tablets.
 

Q: When will the specification be complete?
A: Work on the specification has already begun and an initial review is slated for late 2012/early 2013. It is too early to set a timeframe for completion.
 

Q: What companies drove this initiative?
A: This is a mutual liaison agreement between both organizations. There was no specific company or companies driving the issue.
 

Q: What impact will this specification have on the market?
A: It is too early to surmise the market impact of the specification. However, based on the features of both PCIe and M-PHY, we believe that users will benefit from faster time to market, lower cost, lower power and broad OS support.
 

Q: Will this solution be available in software or hardware only?
A: This is a hardware solution.
 

Q: Will all of the connections be in the phone, or will some of them be off the phone, such as USB?
A: Currently, our focus is on-phone, chip-to-chip connections.
 

Q: How will the two groups work together?
A: A Working Group within PCI-SIG 3.0 will develop the initial specification with support from the MIPI Alliance PHY Working Group for the M-PHY portion of the specification.
 

Q: Will non-MIPI members be able to use the new specification?
A: No. Implementers of the specification must be PCI-SIG and MIPI Alliance members.
 

Q: How will royalties be handled?
A: For MIPI Alliance members, use of the M-PHY within the new specification in mobile applications is royalty free. Usage outside of mobile scope falls under RAND rules. Details on the PCI-SIG licensing can be found in the Member Bylaws

 

 


Test Working Group and Test Policy FAQ

Q: What are you announcing today?
A: MIPI Alliance is announcing the formation of a new Test Working Group (TWG) as well as a broader testing policy designed to support its members’ efforts to implement MIPI specifications. 


Q. How will this group benefit MIPI members?
A. This increased focus on the “testability” of MIPI specifications will speed deployment and improve manufacturability. 


Q. What specifications will the group target?
A. The Test WG will address all MIPI specifications, with specific focus on those specifications currently in development. 


Q. Who can participate in the group?
A. Contributor, Promoter, and Founder MIPI members are welcome to join.

 

Q. Is this different from other MIPI Working Groups?
A. Yes. Unlike other Working Groups (WGs), the Test WG will not produce any specifications.

 

Q. What will the Test WG do?
A. The group is chartered to provide a forum to discuss specification quality and conformance issues, provide guidance and resources to other MIPI Working Groups, advise the MIPI Board on all test-related issues conformance questions, and encourage interoperability activities.

 

Q. What is “out of scope” for the Test WG?
A. The Test WG will not mandate test of MIPI-based products, endorse/approve test equipment, test tools, labs or services, develop any equipment-specific documents, or endorse any interoperability events.

 

Q. How will the Test WG work with the other WGs?

A. The Test WG will facilitate test-related discussions with WGs as well as align test efforts across WGs. The group will encourage Design for Test and Design for Manufacturability during specification development. It will also assist in creating test documents, including Conformance Test Suites (CTS).

 

Q. How will the Test WG work with the Board of Directors (BoD)?
A. The group will work with the BoD to oversee creation/review/approval of CTS documents as well as propose any necessary test policy adjustments.

 

Q. How are interoperability events determined?
A. Typically, interested members within the individual workgroup will independently coordinate interop activities as needed. While the Test Working Group provides guidance on interop events, and may collect information about whether events are needed, the TWG does not engage in coordinating these events. 

 

Q. Who can participate in interoperability events?

A. Once a specification is released, all MIPI members are eligible to participate if they have a MIPI-based product. Prior to a specifications release, interop events are typically restricted to contributor members and above.

 

Q. My company provides test services. How can I get involved in interoperability events?
A. We encourage test service providers to join MIPI Alliance and participate in the Test WG and specification Working Groups in order to stay informed on testing needs and upcoming interop events.

 

Test Policy Questions

 

Q. What is the MIPI Alliance Test policy? 
A. MIPI Alliance strongly encourages members to participate in conformance and interoperability test activities. The new policy also includes the development of Conformance Test Suites and support for member companies or test service providers to organize interoperability test activities. MIPI members can access the complete test policy on the members website.  

 

Q. Does MIPI Alliance have a compliance program? 
A. No. MIPI Alliance does not provide a compliance program, as defined in the MIPI Members Agreement, to evaluate implementations. 

 

Q. Does MIPI Alliance endorse any test or interoperability activities? 
A. No. MIPI does not provide formal endorsement for any test-related activity of any Member or third party. The organization also does not guarantee that any conformance or interoperability activities are a suitable or reliable evaluation of compliance to MIPI Specifications.

 

Q. How are test documents approved? 
A. While the Board looks to the Test WG to oversee the creation, review and approval of test documents, the organization does not evaluate any proprietary documents or tools of any Member or third party to establish their suitability to measure compliance of implementations. 

About the MIPI Board

The current MIPI Board of Directors is comprised of the following representatives:

Membership Model

The MIPI Alliance has structured its membership categories to facilitate involvement from all companies in the mobile industry. The classes of membership in the MIPI Alliance are:

Information on membership levels, privileges, and responsibilities are available in the Membership section.