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Friday, 21 May 2010 08:06

Huawei, Samsung and LG shifting the balance of LTE IPR


The growing competence of companies like Samsung, LG and Huawei in LTE technology will result in a major redistribution of intellectual property rights (IPR) wealth that is likely to help the whole industry by reducing technology licensing and royalty cost, according to research firm Informa Telecoms & Media.

Informa says that while the 2G, 3G, and 3.5G IPR landscape was dominated by Qualcomm, Nokia and Ericsson, new players including Samsung, LG and Huawei have dramatically improved their patent portfolio for LTE compared to previous technologies.

"Using data from the ETSI, USPTO, [US Patents & Trademarks Office] and EPO [European Patent Office] databases, we analysed the distribution of LTE patent wealth by company and by region," said Malik Kamal Saadi, principal analyst at Informa.

"While InterDigital and Qualcomm are clear leaders in the global LTE patents portfolio with 21 percent and 19 percent market shares respectively of the total number of patents, Huawei comes in third position with nine percent, Samsung in fourth position with eight percent and Nokia, LG, and Ericsson in joint fifth place, each with seven percent market share."

Informa adds that, while the number of patents gives an indication of how different players are positioned in the LTE market, the value of each patent can vary enormously depending on its role in LTE technology. "An 'essential' LTE patent, for example, is a key invention or process required for implementing and practising the LTE standard as defined by 3GPP," Kamal Saadi said.


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"It's clear that Samsung, LG and Huawei - who traditionally had a weak IPR portfolio in 3G and 3.5G wireless technologies - are becoming increasingly aggressive in the LTE landscape not only by acquiring an increased number of LTE patents but also by making these patents essential. This will enable them to better trade against the incumbent IPR holders and lower the cost related to licensing wireless technologies."

According to Informa, only a third of current global LTE patents could be described as essential but about 60 percent have the potential to become essential in the future. It estimates that more than 60 percent of Qualcomm's and Nokia's LTE patents, 50 percent of LG's, 40 percent of Samsung's and less than 33 percent of Ericsson's could be described as essential at present.

"Whether or not a patent is viewed as being essential could also vary from one market to another. For example, from the 182 LTE patents contributed by Huawei, 178 are registered in China and only a handful of these could currently be described as essential," Kamal Saadi said.

"This means that Huawei's IPR wealth will be effective in China but to a certain extent less effective in the rest of the world unless Huawei validates its patents with other recognised trademark and patent offices such as the European EPO or the American USPTO."


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