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PA Consulting’s New 5G Report Finds Not All Patents Declared To Standards Bodies Are Essential

PA Consulting (PA), the global innovation and transformation consultancy, has independently analysed how many of 5G relevant Patents declared to the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) are essential to 5G technical specifications.

The report has been developed independently by PA’s in-house wireless telecom engineers. The analysis provides the true essentiality ranking of the leading 5G essential patent holders globally, rather than one simply based on counting the number of 5G raw patents disclosures made to ETSI. The findings are crucial for facilitating 5G technology licensing negotiations around the world and will help identify the strengths of each licensor’s declared patent portfolios.

PA’s Independent 5G Essential IPR Report, found:

  • 90% of all the patents deemed potentially technically essential to 5G are related to the physical layer and the radio access network (RAN) technologies
  • The incumbents from previous generations of wireless telecoms still dominate the 5G essential patent landscape, with Nokia, LG and Samsung at the top when considering patent families with at least one granted patent in major jurisdictions (US/EP/JP/KR/CN)
  • Ericsson and Huawei rank top when considering all patent families declared to ETSI (including ones with only patent publications and unpublished applications)
  • As per declarations to previous technologies, there is a significant variation in the average quality of each company’s patents
  • While most 5G SEPs are essential to both 5G New Radio/New Core (NR/NC) and LTE (Rel.15+), some patent holders have a much higher percentage of patents essential to 5G NR/NC.

PA’s transparent methodology bases its patent evaluation on a deep understanding of wireless specifications gained from developing telecom handsets and base stations for over 25 years. PA’s engineers have independently reviewed tens of thousands of patents across 2G, 3G, 4G and 5G standards and spent a minimum of two hours evaluating the claims of each patent. The result is a database of all the patents evaluated, their potential essentiality ranking and the rationale for the ranking, along with a summary report of each licensor’s current ownership of SEPs. 

Sireesha Ancha, an intellectual property expert at PA Consulting, said: “There are thousands of patents already declared to ETSI as potentially essential to the implementation of 5G technologies. 5G provides advanced features, such as Ultra Low Latency, that will transform how entire industries operate.

As the adoption of 5G gains momentum, the licencing of these patents will become increasingly important. ETSI’s intellectual property rights (IPR) policy states holders of SEPs must be prepared to grant licenses under fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory (FRAND) terms and conditions, but determining what FRAND is makes it particularly challenging in this diverse world. This raises crucial questions around how many declared patents really are essential and which companies own them.”

Sireesha continues: “Our report answers these questions directly and provides analysis in a comprehensive and objective way.  PA has been a trusted advisor on this topic for many years, and our reports are quoted in court cases as independent evidence of the actual essentiality of patents.”

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