Apple now controls more than 400 4G LTE patents, aims to protect itself from Samsung


26 Mar 2012
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The European Telecommunications Standards Institute, commonly referred to at ETSI, says that last year Apple had zero 4G LTE patents. This year, according to the Korea Intellectual Property Office, that number has now ballooned to 318 patents. And of those patents, only 44 of them were actually developed by Apple. The rest came via acquisitions from Nortel and Freescale. When you combine Apple’s 4G LTE patents with the 116 patents controlled by Rockstar Bidco, a patent troll in which Apple is the majority stakeholder, then the total number of patents in their portfolio jumps up to 434. That’s a little more than half the number of 4G LTE patents Samsung owns (819), but on the brighter side it’s also slightly more than what Huawei has (402).

Are any of the numbers above important to you as a consumer? Yes and no. After Samsung lost their court case in California, an article in The Korea Times suggested that the company would bring Apple to court again, only this time using their massive stockpile of 4G patents. Apple, looking to build up some leverage against Samsung, bought all these patents so they can stand a fighting chance. See how this works? The patent game is often compared to the Cold War, where both America and the former Soviet Union spent years building an enormous amount of nuclear weapons just in case one side was stupid enough to attack the other.

At the end of the day though there are some uncomfortable truths we all have to accept. Apple may hate Samsung’s guts, but without Samsung’s chips there wouldn’t be an iPhone or an iPad. Samsung, despite employing cutting edge researchers to develop new components, relies on Google’s software to sell mobile phones. Apple hates Google because they invented Android, so they decided to sue the most successful Android habser maker, Samsung, in an attempt to scare other Android handset makers.

Will these companies ever stop fighting? Probably not.

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