I have testified in court against these so called essential patents. Most of them lack novelty and should not have been been granted in the first place. In any case all of them are algorithm patents which in most jurisdictions are not grantable and the patent holders claim that these patents are apparatus or system patents. The tricks the patent attorneys play !
Take for example the this patent claim that I came across in a web search. I think it is a Nokia patent , will head to the patent office today to check the public filings. Now this patent has I presume lost of claims. The first claim, a typical boiler plate claim reads as
A method for receiving data from a base station comprising the steps of processing a signal for communication received from the base station in a first subchannel using a radio resource of a time division multiple access system, characterized in that the communication occurs in the first subchannel simultaneously with another communication of the base station in at least one second subchannel using the radio resource of the time division multiple access system , wherein the radio resource is a timeslot on a predetermined transmission frequency.
Out of the many claims, this claim alone is mapped to some telco standard and thisif I am not mistaken is supposed to be a standards essential patent.
This boilerplate will match pretty much to any multi-channel network. Not sure if actually came up in a lawsuit but this illustrates the nature of the issue.
Now a few questions arise
- how can one claim be removed from a complete patent, does the patenet as per its own admission realize a complete device ?
- the patent claims to have used known technques in a unique fashion. If that is the case, then sections like these are not necessarily unique.
In another patent, two array are vector quantized to n bits each.
The idea of jointly quantizing the two array into a 2n-1 vector is patented !
This is just two lines of code in an audio codec.
For examples like these a % of the phone is demanded.
Not only are most of these patents worthless, but all of them target
Qualcomm today gets payed as a % of the retail price of the entire device and gets payed a lot. http://www.eetimes.com/document.asp?doc_id=1325631
Why exactly would Qualcomm deserve to get payed for all the technology in the device, marketing, margins, value added by the channel and so on is unknown to any sane person. Last year Apple sued Ericsoon and argued the same thing. 3G/4G is such a small fraction of what a phone is today.
Qualcomm reacted violently because Korea is trying to change this absurd practice and , for Qualcomm, it's about some 8 billion in revenue per year at some 80% margins.
What i haven't seen in the press are any guesses as to what is the just amount Qualcomm should receive when licensing 3G/4G standard essential patents to other silicon vendors. If Mediatek or Intel sell a mobile SoC at X$ and there is quite a bit of other technology in there, how much does Qualcomm deserve for FRAND? 2%, 4%, more?