Qualcomm have enjoyed the governance in patents on the Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA) technology it pioneered. As every 3G network uses CDMA technology, Qualcomm was able to license its patents in exchange for a royalty payment that's 4-5% of selling prices on 3G enabled phones.
Recently TechIPm LLC researched LTE patent portfolios for US market leader among LTE UE (cellular phones, smart phones, PDAs, mobile PCs, etc.) and base station (eNB) product manufactures. 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. 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 and total of 62 patents are identified as the potential candidates for LTE protocol SW essential IPR. 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%) and as for the essential IPR share in protocol SW products, LG (43 %) is the leader followed by InterDigital (19%), Qualcomm (18%), and Nokia (16%) as of May 31 2010.
The top 5 IPR shareholders - InterDigital, LG, Nokia, Qualcomm, and Samsung (total IPR share of 87%) - are appeared as the key member candidates for a successful LTE patent pool formation and operation.
Top 5 LTE essential IP shareholders’ patent portfolios, classified by the key technology components for an implementation of the LTE baseband modem, are compared to excess the innovation competitiveness. Qualcomm’s patent portfolio was distributed among all the key technology components for an implementation of the LTE baseband modem.
Among the total of 134 identified patents as the potential candidates for LTE RAN essential IP only 7 candidates are the issued patents. As the prosecution for the published applications is an ongoing process, it is necessary to watch for a possible IP landscape change. A complete LTE RAN essential IP landscape is expected in two to three years as the current prosecution process for the published and unpublished pending patent applications are finished for a complete set of issued patent data pool.
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