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Nokia's IP Clout
As a result of the high R&D spend incurred over the past decade, Nokia has built a very strong patent portfolio, comprising close to 16,000 issued patents and 4,500 pending patent applications in the U.S. Outside the U.S., the company has over 20,000 patents (both issued and pending) with a majority of them in Europe. Nokia's patents stand out not just in their sheer numbers but also quality. In a 2011 review of the 3,000+ patents considered essential to 4G LTE technology, Thomson Reuters and Article-One found that Nokia held close to 19% of the standard essential LTE patents and was the LTE leader by a big margin. Qualcomm, the dominant mobile chipset manufacturer, trailed Nokia with a share of about 12.5% of the LTE patents deemed the most essential.
Nokia's LTE patents are likely to become even more valuable with time as carriers around the world transition to the wireless standard and a greater number of handsets support 4G. Additionally, it should be noted that Nokia's patents are not just limited to LTE but also include Wi-Fi and older 2G/3G technologies such as GSM, GPRS, EDGE and W-CDMA. In fact, Nokia likely has a greater grip on these patents considering the much bigger role it had played in the development of the older mobile technologies in the nineties than the more recent LTE standard. Although LTE holds much promise for the future, we expect handsets to remain compatible with many of these older technologies well into the future. This should give Nokia an opportunity to grow its licensing revenues going forward.