HDMI Market Update: Unlicensed Product Risks and HDMI 2.1a Sales Opportunities

It’s been over 20 years since the first HDMI specification was introduced and there are always questions about the latest HDMI® trends. This is a quick update based on hot topics received from HDMI Licensing Administrator, Inc. (HDMI LA), the official HDMI specification agent, Trudi Bordi, Vice President of Licensing, and of Brad Bramy, vice president of marketing and operations.

Trudi Bordi, Vice President of Licensing of HDMI LA and Brad Bramy, Vice President of Marketing of HDMI LA

What are licensed HDMI products, and are unlicensed products the same as counterfeit HDMI products?

Trudi Bordi: More importantly, manufacturers and resellers rely on doing business with licensed HDMI adopters. A licensed product is manufactured by a manufacturer who is an official HDMI adopter and has access to current HDMI specifications; and can claim compliance with the HDMI specifications when their products are tested and certified either at an HDMI Authorized Test Center (ATC), or for HDMI 2.1a products, at an HDMI Forum ATC.

Yes, unlicensed HDMI products are counterfeit and at risk of seizure and a company risking punitive action.

Is the list of HDMI adopters on the website the best way to check licensed manufacturers?

Trudi Bordi: Adopters are proudly listed on the website so the industry knows where to find licensed manufacturers. Adopters can also show their HDMI adoption certificate which has a unique QR code, and the scan displays the list of adopters from the website for verification. You can also ask to see the product’s ATC certificate. Now, not all manufacturers need to be HDMI adopters, so they won’t be on the list, but they still need to source from an adopter, which can make verification more complex. You just need to make sure your manufacturer provides licensed HDMI products.

What are the risks and what are the punitive actions that can happen to a company marketing unlicensed HDMI products?

Trudi Bordi: Our international compliance team is responsible for many product seizures. These seizures may include booths at trade fairs where unlicensed products are removed and held, raids on factories, and seizures by local customs officials. In Asia, we also work with government entities to enforce intellectual property, including by issuing fines and penalties to infringing companies. In Taiwan, the offending company also publishes public apologies in local newspapers, which can lead to loss of business reputation.

Brad Bramy: Sometimes manufacturers do not know that they are sourcing unlicensed products until they discover that the products they ordered are seized and are then unable to deliver the products to their customers, which leads to non-delivery penalties and even the loss of contracts. Retailers run out of inventory and lose sales and customers. Resellers should require vendors to only provide licensed products, make it a requirement in their terms and conditions, and even ask to see validation documents.

There are so many economic uncertainties for consumers, what opportunities do you think manufacturers and retailers should consider for product planning?

Brad Bramy: Talking to resellers, they find that although consumers are concerned about rising costs, there are still opportunities to offer the latest features at very affordable prices, such as features supported by HDMI 2.1 has. [email protected], dynamic HDR and immersive Hi-Res Audio with Enhanced Audio Return Channel (eARC). And for many consumers, there is still a demand for premium, higher-end models at higher prices that offer a wide range of advanced features.

Why are so many TV manufacturers promoting gaming features in their latest products?

Brad Bramy: The current HDMI 2.1a specification has helped motivate TV manufacturers to support advanced gaming features like Variable Refresh Rate (VRR) and Auto Low Latency Mode (ALLM), as well as [email protected]giving consumers new options beyond gaming monitors. It also enables TV manufacturers and installers to expand their product line to the global gaming market for the first time, including gaming enthusiasts, families and even new eSports sites.

And what is the latest version of the HDMI specification?

Brad Bramy: It was updated to HDMI 2.1a in February and introduced a new feature called Source-Based Tone Mapping or SBTM. Not all displays have the same HDR capability; some have different color gamuts and brightness levels than others. And sometimes a source device needs to combine different types of content (HDR, SDR, Dynamic HDR, graphics) at the same time. SBTM allows the source to send a video signal that takes full advantage of the HDR capability of a specific display by adjusting its output to best take advantage of each display’s potential. SBTM adds additional HDR capability to HDMI-enabled products, providing consumers with additional high-quality viewing experiences.

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