There's a controversy brewing in the world of memory card standards, and it's not the slow adoption of the new XQD format. No, this time it's the SD Association's newly announced iSDIO standard, which delineates how SD cards can use Wi-Fi to communicate with other devices to transfer files between gadgets, to your computer, or directly to the cloud. If that use case sounds familiar, it's because Eye-Fi has been doing it for some time now with its lineup of SD cards — and therein lies the problem. CEO Yuval Koren has written a scathing blog post arguing that the SD Association has not followed it own rules in publishing the standard and that the standard violates Eye-Fi's patents for Wi-Fi-enabled SD cards.
Koren says that before the Association can approve a new standard, it must first take input from its members about whether or not the proposed standard violates any of their intellectual property. Eye-Fi, a member, apparently told the SD Association that iSDIO did, but the group published the standards anyway despite the fact that the window for IP review had not closed. Koren writes:
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.
The SD Association is apparently equally miffed, apparently telling Eye-Fi that it went ahead and published iSDIO during the IP review period because "the only thing that could possibly change is the licensing and not the technical details." It may be too much to assume that Eye-Fi would be willing to license its patents, though the company does license to camera manufacturers.
The SD Association told PCWorld that "The IP review period for iSDIO began November 28, 2011 and will end January 27, 2012. Any IP issues that arise will be handled in accordance to SDA policies and procedures." Somehow we doubt that public accusations and bickering are part of those procedures.