Apple hoards LTE patents to deflect Samsung attack
Possible defensive move to stop Samsung marching iPhone 5 to court
By Phil Muncaster • Get more from this author
Posted in Networks, 5th September 2012 05:44 GMT
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Apple has been hoarding LTE patents in a bid to head off a possible legal
attack from fierce rival Samsung on its forthcoming iPhone 5, according to
reports from Korea.
Apple has gone from holding zero LTE patents last year to having 318 filed
away today. That's around five per cent of the world’s total, today, the
Korea Intellectual Property Office (KIPO) told local news site The Chosun
Cupertino apparently developed just 44 of those patents itself while the
rest were bought from once-proud Nortel as it was broken up.
The Rockstar Bidco consortium which Apple joined with EMC, Microsoft and
others to bid for further Nortel patents owns a further 116 LTE patents,
effectively bumping Apple’s number up in excess of 400.
By comparison, Samsung has the largest share of the patents on the planet
with 819 (12.7 per cent), while US patent firm InterDigital is second with
780 (12.1 per cent).
"This shows that Apple has been taking strategic steps to acquire
intellectual property to prepare for potential legal disputes before it
launches its own LTE smartphones," a KIPO official told Chosun Ilbo.
The report echoes claims in the Korean Times on Friday that Samsung – still
smarting after its defeat to Apple in a Californian court last month – was
readying a move to strike back at the fruity tech brand.
It claims that Samsung confirmed it would “immediately sue” Apple if the
Californian phone-maker releases an LTE device.
With the iPhone 5 possibly set to sport such functionality when it is
announced next week, we should find out sooner rather than later.
However, patent expert Florian Mueller warned that the Korean electronics
giant would do well to rethink its strategy, telling The Reg: “4G/LTE won't
be Samsung's key to a free pass for infringement”.
“I would strongly discourage Samsung from trying to use 4G/LTE-essential
patents to shut down the iPhone 5,” he added in a blog post.
“It won't improve Samsung's position. It will only make things worse,
especially with antitrust regulators. In my view, the reasonable approach
for Samsung would be to sue for FRAND royalties over its Standard Essential
Patents, not injunctions.”