Qualcomm defends patent status quo

Caroline Gabriel/Wireless Watch
19 Sep 2011

Unsurprisingly, for the most successful intellectual property revenue model in mobile, the chip giant is upbeat about the way the industry collects and licenses technology, despite the costs in handset fees and legal battles.

Consumers do benefit from the current system - despite “short term turmoil” - because royalties are reinvested into product improvements, insisted CEO Paul Jacobs

That actually is the case at Qualcomm, which has one of the highest R&D budgets in the sector, but not necessarily among some patent hoarders and trolls. Will the billions of dollars that Apple and Google are investing in their IPR arms race really be justified by the improved products their R&D programs, enhanced by new patents, will turn out?

The case can be made for Apple, Qualcomm and many others which make genuine innovations and then patent them – far harder to argue for firms stacking up IPR, often only laterally related to their core R&D, as a defence against lawsuits or a bar-gaining chip when engaged in the bilateral and secretive licensing deals on which the mobile sector is based.

There are too many vested interests and too many dollars in this system for it to change quickly, as the attempt by Intel and the Wimax community showed. Qualcomm is one of the most deeply vested parties and a powerful opponent of patent pools and other methods to make IPR licensing more transparent and predictable.

In his keynote speech at the company‟s IQ (Innovation Qualcomm) event in Istanbul this week, Jacobs argued that it is important that an inventor is able to predict and receive any revenue from that invention (or, presumably, sell it on to Google or a troll for an inflated price, as shareholders in many inventive firms from Alcatel-Lucent to RIM are urging).

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