Last week, Apple won a huge victory in court against Samsung as a jury of 9 people decided that the Koreans have infringed on Apple’s patents and should pay over $1 billion in damages. Samsung was definitely not happy with the decision. Not surprisingly, soon after, we heard that the Korean company has pointed its LTE patent gun against Apple and is just waiting for an upcoming iPhone with LTE to start firing in court.
Samsung has got the strongest LTE patent portfolio in the industry, holding a whopping 819 patents, nearly 13% of all the patents filed, and a lot of those were developed by Samsung itself.
Apple on the other hand has also pre-emptively loaded the patent guns in defense mode – Cupertino has a meager 44 LTE patents developed on its own, but it has been actively purchasing patents and with all of its acquired IP, Apple’s LTE patent portfolio now amounts to 434 patents. U.S. patent firm InterDigital is the second-biggest player in LTE with 780 patents.
"This shows that Apple has been taking strategic steps to acquire intellectual property to prepare for potential legal disputes before it launches its own LTE smartphones," a Korea Intellectual Property Office official said.
Interestingly, Apple held no LTE patents registered with the European Telecommunications Standards Institute last year. With its newly acquired LTE patent portfolio, Apple is now among the 10 biggest LTE patent holders.
The real patent battle however will not happen in standard technological patents, but in commercial LTE intellectual property and we’re yet to see how Samsung and Apple are doing there.