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Patent licensing – The future enabling innovation for 5G technology

5G has a potential to connect everything together, including vehicles, ships, buildings, meters, machines and other items, together with electronics, software, sensors, and the Cloud.


In a world of superheroes and avenging champions of mankind, it would not be an understatement to say that 5G is looked at as a real-world superpower by many. There is good reason for this. The vast portal of technology that has been opened up by 5G, such as watching Ultra High-Definition videos with zero waiting time, the extensive use of Augmented and Virtual Reality, and the perennially connected network of IoT (Internet of Things) devices are enough proof that 5G has the ability to transform the world into a giant hub of ultra-high-speed connectivity. 5G has a potential to connect everything together, including vehicles, ships, buildings, meters, machines and other items, together with electronics, software, sensors, and the Cloud.

The top players in telecom have long since woken up to this – what has ensued the most intense patent war of modern times, rivaled only by the recently concluded smartphone patent wars. Behemoths like Samsung, Nokia, Huawei, Ericsson, Intel, and Qualcomm have all put their cards on the table for building the most impressive Intellectual Property portfolio. This can be attributed to the fact that a number of industries will benefit once 5G truly takes over. Every industry utilizing or benefiting from 5G would have to take a license from the companies holding the 5Gpatents. Meaning, that the licensing revenues from patent licensing in 5G space would be huge.

It is clear to see how much is at stake. Take for example the recently concluded legal battle in which Qualcomm and Apple were entwined in for so long over Qualcomm’s infringement claims against Apple. The message is clear – anyone who expects to survive in this war zone had better understa the law of the land in terms of Patent Licensing. This is particularly relevant in terms of 5G, which has opened up whole new avenues for IP licensing. Dominant and fringe sectors alike such as vehicles, health, agriculture present a remarkable number of patent licensing opportunities with 5G and IoT.

Thankfully, concepts of fairness do exist in patent licensing world, such as FRAND (Fair, Reasonable And Non-Discriminatory) terms. Under FRAND, any owner of a Standard Essential Patent (SEP) has to license the patent on terms that are fair and reasonable. In other words, the patent owner is not allowed to take undue advantage from licensing of their SEPs.

5G brings opportunities that can truly better the human life in crucial ways, and the only way to bring such innovations into the public space, with no fear of unlawful gains, is by having strict compliance of FRAND terms in IP licensing deals. So, it is now up to the top players – the ones with the most on the line – to create an environment of openness, learning and new partnerships. A world where the superheroes and superpowers co-exist for the greater good is, after all, a better one.

The article is written by Amit Aggarwal, Co-Founder and Director of Effectual Services

  • Published Date: May 17, 2019 10:19 AM IST