An LTE (Long Term Evolution) service was launched in Japan in December 2010 by NTT DOCOMO under the name of Xi (“Crossy”) to pave the way for 4th generation mobile communication services which will succeed the currently widely used 3rd generation services.
In 3rd generation mobile communication systems there exist multiple technical standards such as W-CDMA and cdma2000, but LTE is expected to be widely deployed from now on as a single international standard.
As was the case with W-CDMA, standardization of LTE is being carried out in 3GPP (the Third Generation Partnership Project) and, alongside the standardization activities, many patent applications are being filed by various companies.
In order for a patented technology to be adopted in a standard, the patent holder has to declare to the standards development organizations in each country its willingness to grant licenses on fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory terms.
ETSI is a European standards organization but many non-European companies have also filed LTE-essential declarations with ETSI because Europe is a large and historic market where many major companies are located.
As a result, the number of patents declared to ETSI by companies as being essential to LTE standards is now becoming an index for knowing the “patent power” of those companies.
The true “patent power” of any company, however, cannot be measured simply by counting the number of its patents on the list of essential patents published by ETSI.
Therefore, this survey’s aims are to estimate the number of essential patents held by each company firstly by analyzing the list of ETSI essential patents and then by removing duplications by grouping patents into families and finally by evaluating them using an equal evaluation criteria.
Evaluation LTE essential patents Version 3.0
Survey period:September 2009-March 2013
Evaluation LTE essential patents Version2.0
Evaluation LTE essential patents Version1.0
●What is an “ETSI essential patent?”
ETSI (European Telecommunications Standards Institute) is a standard developing organization in Europe established to produce standards relating to Information and Communications Technologies (ICT), and is recognized by the European Union as a European Standards Organization.
ETSI’s membership comprises administrations, telecommunication operators, manufacturers and scientific organizations from 62 countries around the world. It was founded in 1988 and is headquartered in France.
Essential patents refer to those which are indispensable when implementing a standard. When proposing an essential patent technology to be adopted in a standard, the patent holder must declare its licensing conditions to the standards development organization by choosing one of the three options.
●What is LTE?
LTE is the standard for next generation mobile communication systems expected to be deployed by telecommunication carriers in Japan and other countries in the world with deployment having first started around 2010. Its standardization has been carried out by 3GPP (3rd Generation Partnership Project) and its specifications were frozen in March 2009 as 3GPP Release 8.
LTE is positioned as a bridge between the currently widely introduced 3rd generation mobile communication systems such as W-CDMA or CDMA2000 and the future 4th generation system. While HSPA(High Speed Packet Access) is called 3.5G, LTE is called 3.9G because technology-wise it is much similar to 4G (i.e. LTE-Advanced). In recent years, various verification tests of LTE have been carried out in Japan, Europe and the USA. In Japan a commercial service was launched in December 2010.
As the name “Long Term Evolution (LTE)” indicates, LTE is expected to play the role of a bridge for realizing a smooth migration to 4G by enabling 3G to make a long term evolution.
ETSI Essential Patents Evaluation Project Team of Patent Division, Cyber Creative Institute：
As next generation mobile services proliferate, increased attention is being paid to the essential patents for LTE.
Under such circumstances, the Patent Division of Cyber Creative Institute has formed a Project Team of experts to study ETSI essential patents and has started surveys. The Team will continue to conduct surveys from objective viewpoints. For inquiries, please e-mail us from contact form.