4G patent pool could «expose» Qualcomm

19 Mar 2008

The creation of a patent pool for fourth-generation or 4G technologies should be a cause for concern for Qualcomm, says analyst firm ABI Research.

Led by Intel and Samsung, the recently-launched Next Generation Mobile Networks (NGMN) initiative aims to address confusion surrounding 4G patents.

By creating a patent pool, manufacturers and carriers alike will be able to gauge market costs based on royalty rates and identify corresponding patent holders.

Stuart Carlaw, ABI vice president and research director, said this initiative would depend on independent reporting of royalty rates (to the NGMN) and "also the ability of a patent pool to report en masse."

Carlaw believes this will create a situation wherein there will be an evident divide between the patent pool rates reported, and royalty rates reported from the rest.

He stressed: "This will expose Qualcomm's position (and those of any others not in the pool) to the public gaze."

Qualcomm is involved in a squabble with Nokia, which reportedly paid more than a billion dollars to gain access to Qualcomm's patents. Qualcomm, however, believes Nokia isn't sufficiently paid.

The level of "exposure" depends critically on the ability to provide a sizeable pool of patents, said Carlaw, who believes smaller vendors will be most keen in joining the NGMN.

He said: "Whether this situation comes to pass or not, Qualcomm especially should be worried, because this development spells a continued drive towards marginalizing its position."

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