Tuesday, June 15, 2010

LTE Essential IP for Baseband Modem Products

LTE patent portfolios are researched for US market leader among LTE UE (cellular phones, smart phones, PDAs, mobile PCs, etc.) and base station (eNB) product manufactures. To find the key IPR holders for the LTE patents, a keyword search of the USPTO patent data base has been performed. For completeness, patent data in the lists of patents declared essential to 3GPP LTE appear at the ETSI IPR Online website is also included.

Total of 1250 LTE patents, issued and published applications in the US as of May 31 2010, are analyzed to find essential patent candidates for LTE RAN (Radio Access Network) standards. 3GPP standard specifications for LTE baseband modem are consist of three core parts: OFDM/MIMO Processor (TS36.211), Channel Coder (TS36.212), and Control SW (TS36.213).

An essential patent is defined as patent that contain one or more claims that are infringed by the implementation of a specification for standardized technology. Thus, if a LTE product is implemented following the standard specifications, it should infringe some essential patents. To evaluate the essentiality of a LTE patent, patent disclosures in claim and detail description for each LTE patent are compared to the final versions of the 3GPP Release 8 technical specifications.

Total of 72 patents are identified as the potential candidates for LTE baseband modem essential IPR. Leading in IPR share indicates a governance in licensing and a high in profit expectation through licensing royalty. As for the essential IPR share in baseband modem products, Qualcomm (27 %) is the leader followed by Samsung (18%), LG (18%), InterDigital (7%), Nokia (7%), Motorola (6%), and TI (6%) as of May 31 2010.

To excess the technology innovation for LTE baseband modem, the identified essential patents are classified as the key technology components for an implementation of the LTE baseband modem: OFDM/OFDMA (Frame & Slot Structure, Modulation), SC-FDMA (PUSCH, PUCCH), Channel Estimation (UL RS, DL RS, CQI), Cell Search & Connection (PRACH, DL SS), MIMO (Transmit Diversity, Spatial Multiplexing), Resource Management (Resource Allocation, Scheduling), Coding (Convolution, Turbo), Power Control, and HARQ.

Based on the number of essential patent candidates, the most intensive field of technology innovation is the Resource Management (20%) followed by Cell Search & Connection (15%), and Channel Estimation (14%).

The innovation landscape analysis could reveal the white space in LTE modem technology for further development of essential patent portfolio through the patent engineering methodology (http://www.slideshare.net/alexglee/lte-patent-engineering-for-essential-portfolio-development-case-study-for-qualcomms-strategy).

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