Consumer demand shapes the development of broadband mobile services. The International Telecommunication Union estimates that mobile internet traffic will rise by 10 to 100 times between 2020 and 2030. The growing number of mobile devices and the increasing demand for network access will require innovative solutions. It is estimated that the number of devices connected to the internet will have reached 50 billion by 2020.
5G, or the fifth generation of mobile technology, will connect people, things, data, applications, transport systems, and cities into intelligent networks. The new standard will allow faster transmission and processing of vast amounts of data. It will provide reliable connection between a large number of devices. 5G technology solutions will be used in intelligent homes and buildings, intelligent cities, 3D video services, work and play in the cloud, remote medical services, virtual and augmented reality, as well as in vast-scale communication between machines, which is necessary for industry automation.
In recent years, the owners of 3G and 4G patents have had control over the way mobile technologies were used in the smartphone sector. Due to that, the 5G patent owners will most likely become leaders in that technology, providing 5G connectivity on various markets.
In telecommunications, there is a notion of Standard Essential Patents (SEPs). They are the patents which cannot be avoided in the process of implementing normalized technologies. They are breakthrough, pioneering innovations around which whole industries will be built. This also applies to SEPs in 5G.
A report (available at https://www.iplytics.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/Who-Leads-the-5G-Patent-Race_2019.pdf) developed by IPlytics shows that it is the Chinese company Huawei that has the largest patent portfolio for solutions that will be applied in the 5G technology. The runners-up are Nokia, then China's ZTE, and South-Korea's LG and Samsung. Qualcomm and Intel are the largest US companies which have 5G patent applications in their portfolios, whereas Sharp and Fujitsu have them in Japan.
However, the process of granting exclusive rights might take a few years. Because the 5G technology is an absolute novelty, patent applications may have been submitted very recently. It may be assumed that many such patents will be granted in the future.
Licensing 5G SEPs may become a serious problem not only for the mobile phone industry but also for each production industry in which connectivity plays a role. Those in charge of patent policies in companies should make preparations for the entry of 5G products on the market. Managers responsible for patents should already consider the cost of licence fees and secure suitable payments. They should also remember about the dynamic SEP market, on which patent applicants purchase whole patent portfolios to capitalize on licensing fees.
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