Apple bought a lot of LTE patents ahead of iPhone 5 launch. Now controls 434 of them vs Samsung’s 819

After a major loss in U.S in its patent battle with Apple, Samsung is gearing up for the next round of fights. And it has been pretty vocal about the new weapons it plans to introduce this year.

LTE patents.

Samsung owns a whole bunch of them, and with  iPhone 5 sporting  LTE chip inside – Sammy is threatening to launch a round of new lawsuits in Europe, Asia and U.S as soon as the new Apple smartphone hits the shelves.

The theory is – since Cupertino company got into mobile business fairly recently, and didn’t participate much in the development of the wireless standard – they shouldn’t have much to respond with.

But  this theory is wrong.

Apple was well aware about the potential complications from the lack of wireless IP when it launched its patent war against Android. So it started quietly buying up mobile standards related patents, and now owns a whole bunch of them.

According to Korean Intellectual Property Office, Apple didn’t have any LTE related patents last year.

This year, however, it is listed as the owner 318 LTE patents. And, with 4.9% of the total, is ranked among top ten of next generation wireless standard IP owners. 44 of the patents Apple developed itself, the rest it bought from Nortel and Freescale.  Furthermore, via Rockstar Bidco consortium, which won the bidding war for the rest of Nortel’s wireless patents, and in which Apple has a majority stake, the iPhone maker now controls additional 116 LTE standard essential patents. Bringing its total to 434.

This is only a bit more than half of 819 LTE essential patents Samsung owns today.

But it is much much better  than nothing Apple had last year. And may further complicate Samsung’s efforts to fight against Apple’s IP machine.

Via Chosun Ilbo Image credit: Drill Down

Author: Stasys Bielinis

While I like to play with the latest gadgets, I am even more interested in broad technology trends. With mobile now taking over the world - following the latest technology news, looking for insights, sharing and discussing them with passionate audience - it's hard to imagine a better place for me to be. You can find me on Twitter as @UVStaska'

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  • Mason

    Why is Samsung still at it? If they do anything more to upset apple, apple can just ban all the phones breaking apples patents.

  • ChristieNooks

    Hopefully Samsung manages to get the iPhone 5 banned in one or more territories. Apple deserves it.

  • Grant W

    Apple started it, poking the tiger, I love Apple products as both an android and apple consumer, but i think Apple is slowly making themselves a target for hackers and even more hardcore anti-apple fans. Nobody likes a monopoly.

  • vasras

    It’s all about the essentials.

    Apple can stall and play the slow-down game with the non-essentials, but in the end many of them will get overturned, will not stand outside the USA or get at most a marginal (forced by court) license fee.

    But the essentials Apple does not control, nor does Samsung. They are spread around so many players that in the end *everybody* has to pretty much cross-license or pony up hard cash.

    Nobody is going to win, if they start chugging it out in open courts. Except for the litigation patent lawyers of course.

    They win. Always :)

  • Walt French

    This post is interesting, but it omits mention of a very important fact: for a patent to be declared essential to LTE, the patent-holder first had to declare that he would license it to any and all comers on FRAND terms.

    ETSI seemingly does very little to enforce these pledges, but US courts have long found FRAND pledges binding on the US arms of the patent-holders; likewise the EU Competition Commission and US DoJ recognize that without effect FRAND practices, ETSI is essentially itself a trust operating an oligopoly that illegally restrains competition.

    Just as Motorola has finally agreed to accept Apple’s long-standing offer to license Moto’s GSM and CDMA patents, I cannot foresee how Samsung would do otherwise. Even if the regulatory and legal authorities do not act quickly, I imagine that Apple has already drafted the briefs in anticipation of Samsung carrying out its threat. And Samsung’s own counsel, having already seen Apple’s defense in the Samsung v Apple part of the just-concluded trial, are certainly anticipating the same.

    It appears that Apple’s anti-trust claims have been tossed only because Apple was never actually blocked from selling phones that used the technology that Motorola and Samsung “refused” to license. That means the claim could be quite a bit stronger than it might appear from a simple reading of history.

    PS: while ETSI has apparently done little to twist its members’ arms on licensing to non-ETSI firms, this post DOES highlight the fact that ETSI has a mechanism for setting a fair rate among members of a standards body. As long as Apple doesn’t stupidly play tit-for-tat and withhold its LTE patents, it’d seem that a Samsung refusal would directly violate its terms of membership in the standards group.

    Samsung’s threats can’t be much more than a blustering attempt to save face. I just can’t see how this would end well for Samsung.

  • Walt French

    And yet it is Samsung that sells more phones than anybody else, while Google’s is the most-used mobile OS. I.e., if there is any monopolist abusing its position, it’d be Samsung — trying to threaten Apple into giving up its IP — and Google — thinking that its huge market share would change the rules in its favor.

    Do you visit the real world very often, or are you happy in Google’s pseudo-FOSS echo chamber?

  • Walt French

    BTW: the notion that “Apple started it” is a line of reasoning that most people get disabused of by the time they are in grade school. It is useless.

    And false. Motorola canceled Apple’s license to GSM IP within weeks of the iPhone’s release, and Apple’s negotiations for a license on FRAND terms have only come to fruit 5 years later, as Motorola changed its position in a court case. Apple of course, was ALSO sued by Nokia (and now licenses Nokia’s IP at about the same rate as the damages that Samsung was just found liable for).

    It’s ALWAYS been the case that the GSM consortium has had some members who tried to use their patents illegally to restrain trade. This was true over a decade before Apple came on the scene, and Google started complaining that they got into a business that has been built on those patents.

  • Alpha_Axl

    LOL what an idiot.