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Nokia, Qualcomm, Samsung own strongest LTE patent portfolios

A recent study found that Nokia, Qualcomm and Samsung Electronics have secured the highest number of patents related to the fourth-generation communications network technology Long Term Evolution.

In a study unveiled by global patent research community Article One Partners and Thomson Reuters, three technology firms ― Nokia, Qualcomm and Samsung ― were equipped with the strongest LTE portfolio, taking leadership in future LTE technologies.

Together, the top three firms owned more than 43 percent of essential and highly novel patents ― 18.9 percent for Nokia, 12.5 percent for Qualcomm and 12.2 percent for Samsung.

Ericsson and LG Electronics trailed closely behind with 11.6 percent and 7.5 percent, respectively.

Establishing a strong LTE patent portfolio offers meaning for the technology firms since securing the patents will enable them to gain the upper hand in patent-related battles that may occur in the future.

“Forward-leaning and strong patent portfolios are now a must-have, not a nice-to-have,” said the study co-author Marshall Phelps. “Major mobile communications companies understand the importance of this as a means to maintain cutting edge technology, specifically around LTE.”

Samsung and Apple are in fierce patent battles, with some involving third-generation wireless communications technologies. Other global tech firms such as Motorola and HTC are going through similar battles.

According to AOP, companies use patents as a way to differentiate themselves from the competition and lead their industry. While used to protect a company’s intellectual property, it is also utilized to foster innovation, it said.

“We expect that the LTE standards process and litigation resolution over the next few years will result in a licensing regime for the smartphone industry to more closely resemble their forbearers, the telecommunications and computer industries,” said Cheryl Milone, chief executive of AOP. “Patents rarely exclude competition in the long run, particularly where thousands of patents can apply to devices, access, content and applications.”

Other mobile communications companies, Nortel and Motorola Mobility were found to have acquired patents valued at $4.5 billion and $12.5 billion, respectively, while the consortium of Apple, EMC, Ericsson, Microsoft, RIM and Sony owns 2.29 percent and Motorola Mobility owns 1.15 percent of LTE patents, it said.

The study reviewed 3,116 patents and pending patents declared essential by the European Telecommunications Standards Institute as of last September.

By Cho Ji-hyun (sharon@heraldcorp.com)
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