Apple collects mass of LTE patents

By Juha Saarinen on Sep 7, 2012 7:37 AM
Filed under Communications

Armed for future litigation?

Apple has built up a large collection of Long Term Evolution (LTE) patents, possibly in preparation for future legal disputes with Samsung.

Korean publication The Chosunilbo reported that European Telecommunications Standards Institute data showed Apple, which had no LTE  patents last year, now has 318.

This puts the company in the top ten patent holders, with 4.9 percent of total patents, according to the Korean Intellectual Property Office or KIPO.

Of the 318, Apple has developed only 44 itself. The rest have been purchased from Nortel and Freescale. 

KIPO said Apple is taking strategic steps to acquire intellectual property in preparation for legal disputes before launching its own LTE handsets.

Apple also has a majority stake in Rockstar Bidco, a patent enforcement company that lists Microsoft, Research in Motion, Sony and Ericsson as co-owners. Through Rockstar Bidco, Apple has acquired a further 116 LTE patents.

Samsung meanwhile is a huge LTE patent hoarder, Chosunilbo reported, with 819 or 12.7 percent of the total.

US patent holder InterDigital is second with 780 LTE patents followed by Huawei with 402.

LTE is the next-generation mobile broadband standard, currently being deployed around the world and capable of delivering very high speeds.

Samsung and Apple have locked horns in court rooms around the world over patent issues, with the Korean company losing spectacularly against the Americans last month, after a US jury awarded Apple billion dollar damages.

The latest development in the patent war between the two electronics giants has seen Korean regulators investigate a complaint by Apple that Samsung is abusing its dominant position in wireless technology, Reuters reported.

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Apple collects mass of LTE patents
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