The decision by Nokia and Qualcomm to
end their legal battle over patents, reported in this issue of
FierceWireless:Europe, has prompted some thoughts on the issue of
Intellectual Property Rights (IPR). Over the last decade many of the
biggest names in the wireless arena have got themselves involved in
legal tussles over IPR. Qualcomm has the reputation of being the most
litigious but Motorola, Nokia and Ericsson are among many others who
have launched platoons of lawyers in defence of what they see as their
property. Virtually all IPR legal battles have the same
characteristics; they involve concepts and technologies that hardly
; they drag on for years without apparent progress or
resolution; and when they are resolved the decisions always seem to be
taken in minor district court houses usually located in Texas. In many
ways the efforts of companies to protect their IPR are understandable.
After all, they have spent considerable sums of money in R&D
creating new technologies so they should be allowed to enjoy the
benefits. At heart however the IPR argument is about money, lots and
lots of money. For some companies the revenues from licencing their
intellectual property far exceed the revenues from their supposed core
business. With the mobile market continuing to expand IPR revenues can
only continue to increase.
Unfortunately a downside to IPR battles is that they can inhibit
market growth by restricting the ability of companies to bring new
technologies to the market. For example, there are now more than three
billion subscribers worldwide using GSM mobile phones yet there are
still ongoing IPR disputes involving aspects of GSM technology. If the
companies involved had not agreed to proceed with launching GSM and
then try and resolve their IPR issues later then the massive global
mobile phone market might never have happened--or at least happened
To be fair to the mobile industry it does recognise
that IPR is a major problem and is trying to do something about it.
Everyone is very keen that Long Term Evolution (LTE) should succeed and
to that end 3GPP and ETSI have launched various initiatives which would
essentially forestall IPR-related disputes in connection with LTE. Many
of the companies involved in LTE development have agreed to go along
with these initiatives but history proves these early signs of common
sense may prove illusory. Regrettably IPR disputes seem to be like
death and taxes--always with us. -Ian
E come se Einstein fosse in discussione con Plank, e Picasso cercherebbe di giudicare chi ha ragione !
io farei un tribunale ingegneristico, come quello militare! I giudici che non capiscono una mazza di GSM come possono sapere chi ha ragione per un piccolo brevetto.