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Handset makers gear up for future patent wars and intensify patent acquisitions

Telecom Innovations – Services & Products
Published: 2013-01-29

Recently, large technology firms such as Apple, HTC, and Samsung have been acquiring patents speculated to be used as ammunition against potential patent litigations. Patents related to wireless technologies (Bluetooth, LTE, WiFi, etc.) are the main targets of these companies. For instance, Apple bought 1 024 patents related to LTE and other wireless technologies from Rockstar Consortium - a patent holding company consisting of EMC, Ericsson, Microsoft, Research In Motion, and Sony that owns 6 000 patents acquired from Nortel. Apple is also a member of the consortium (reportedly invested US$2.5bn) and has access to the patents but it opted to buy selected patents in an effort to beef up its patent portfolio while fending off and gearing up for potential litigations spurred by the ongoing litigation against Samsung and other industry rivals.

In line with the recent litigations, Samsung's effort to strengthen its patent portfolio also involves active patent acquisitions. In July 2012, the company acquired 21 wireless connectivity (including WiFi and Bluetooth technologies) and location-based patents from CSR, a UK-based company developing silicon and software for the consumer electronics market, with an estimated worth of more than US$300m. The deal marks Samsung's intention to develop wireless connectivity features in their handsets while providing a cushion for future litigations.

Also in a cautious stance, HTC entered into patent acquisition buying s3 Graphic’s (a manufacturer of graphics visualization technologies) patents related to graphics processing technology for US$300m in June 2012. Buying the patent would give the company the advantage to customise its own processors while providing a buffer for potential patent suits from competitors - in particular, Apple.

The recent aggressive patent wars between handset manufacturers only mirrors the cutthroat competition in the mobile device arena that is now pushing companies to resort to patent suits in the hopes of banning the sale of each others' products.

Published: 2013-01-29

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