Sending a Clear Signal

The United States and Britain last week issued a joint statement regarding Global Positioning System intellectual property, affirming their commitment to ensuring that GPS civil signals remain perpetually free and openly available to users worldwide. As part of this agreement, the British government pledged not to pursue or assert intellectual property rights over any aspect of the GPS civil signals, now or in the future, according to the joint statement, dated Jan. 17. “Our joint approach to providing this intellectual property free to end users underpins the central role GPS plays not just in defense operations but also in wider civil applications and civil resilience,” said Phillip Dunne, British defense minister for equipment, support, and technology. “Free and open access to GPS civil signals ensures that the costs of building and using GPS receivers stays as low as possible without the added burden that paying royalty fees or licensing fees would entail if patents and other intellectual property rights were claimed and enforced on GPS signals,” states the State Department’s release on that same day.