According tomedia reports, the battle over who will benefit from 5G technology such as connected cars, smart homes and robots is taking place on several continents around the world, and the scale and scope of the competition could be even greater, dwarfing even the tech industry’s first global patent battle, the smartphone patent war. Automakers are now fighting Qualcomm, Nokia and other telecoms developers in court over the multi-billion dollar cost of using the latter’s wireless standard technology.
Companies such as Qualcomm may benefit not only from patent fees for 5G technology from Talking Cars, but also from wireless communications products being planned for agriculture, medicine, home appliances and other industries.
“So many different types of companies have to find ways to close these deals, which has increased our smartphone problems tenfold,” said Joe Siino, president of Dolby Labs’ patent licensing division. “The division partners with the audio, wireless, broadcast and automotive industries.
The value of standardized technology is a key issue in the smartphone war, which has put wireless technology developers such as Nokia, Qualcomm and Motorola Mobile at odds with new entry into the mobile market, such as Apple and Microsoft. Over the past decade, the two sides have launched dozens of lawsuits, costing hundreds of millions of dollars in legal fees alone.
New disputes are likely to be more lucrative, according to United Market Research, as sales of equipment using 5G technology are expected to grow more than 120-fold from $5.5 billion this year to $668 billion in 2026. The technology promises to change a range of products, from dishwashers programmed during our morning commute to driverless delivery trucks and sensors, where farmers can even monitor crops, livestock and equipment via smartphones.
In the past few weeks, U.S. and European courts have dismissed allegations that telecommunications companies’ licensing policies violate antitrust laws and confirmed their ability to restrict the use of their basic wireless technology by those who refuse to meet licensing requirements. In cases brought by the European and U.S. auto industries, the rulings have favored telecommunications companies rather than current wireless standards.
A German judge sided with Sharp, for example, by asking for restrictions on Daimler’s sales in the country because the latter used Sharp’s mobile technology without permission. In a separate case, a Texas judge dismissed an antitrust lawsuit filed by Daimler’s parts supplier, Continental, against a patent licensing pool.
The pool, called Avanci, is responsible for patent licenses owned by Qualcomm, Nokia, Sharp and other telecommunications companies. It charges $15 per vehicle for a range of patented inventions that meet 2G, 3G and 4G standards, and is developing a 5G fee plan. Kasim Alfalahi, founder and chief executive of Avanci, said: “Patent owners want to be paid because they are proud of what they have created and are constantly innovating. You have to find a middle ground and find a place where these things can meet. “
Automakers usually leave patent issues to their parts suppliers, who pay any necessary royalties and compensate automakers in lawsuits. Daimler, the Mercedes-Benz maker, is angry about the way the telecoms industry handles licensing, saying patent owners should deal with suppliers just like everyone else.
Continental said it was willing to pay royalties, but Avanci would only deal with carmakers so it could charge more licensing fees. The parts maker says royalties should apply to $100 parts, not $50,000 cars.
In a letter to the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, Daimler and Ford Motor Co. warned that the Qualcomm-winning appeals court ruling could “encourage the abuse of market power gained through cooperative standard-setting, thereby destabilizeing the standard ecosystem.” “
Katie Coltart, a patent lawyer at the London office of the law firm Kirkland and Ellis, said: “More and more industries are starting to adopt technologies that must be standardized, which means that addressing these issues will become even more important. “
Industry standards are necessary to ensure that devices can communicate with each other, and the companies that develop them are committed to granting patents on fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory terms, also known as the FLAD clause. However, the Standards Development Committee had deliberately never defined the wording in order to avoid infighting that might impede the ability to set standards.
“Several companies have invested billions of dollars in research,” said Mark Snyder, Qualcomm’s deputy general counsel. In a functioning market, you want people to negotiate seriously. FRAND is a two-way street. “。
Despite the battle between Avanci and Daimler, Mr. Sino of Dolby Labs says the patent pool gives the company access to the large number of patents it needs to comply with wireless standards. They could be a “safe haven”, limit the number of negotiations needed and free disputes from trade wars between countries, he said. However, there may be thousands of patents that are not in the patent pool and are not subject to the FLAND clause, said Craig Thompson, general manager of Unified Consulting, which helps the company analyze the patent portfolio.
U.S. and European telecommunications companies have found their biggest backer in the Trump administration, Makan Delrahim, the Justice Department’s antitrust chief. Drahim has written to the court on behalf of patent owners such as Ericsson and InterDigital, saying the patent fee dispute is a contract or patent dispute and not an antitrust action.
The worry is that if there is not enough money for patent owners, they will not work together to develop a single system that can be used by anyone. But Mauricio Uribe, a patent lawyer at the law firm Knobbe Marten in Seattle, says too much money means manufacturers will raise prices or forgo the latest technology. “Both extremes are bad for consumers, ” he says. “