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The strength of a 5G patent portfolio is more than a numbers game

A woman with glasses talking on a mobile phone

Nokia has been driving cellular standardization for over 30 years and defined many of the fundamental technologies used in virtually all mobile devices. Since 2000, we have invested more than 140 billion euros in R&D and continue to make substantial investments and generate new inventions. As a result, we own one of the broadest and strongest patent portfolios in the mobile communications sector, with around 20,000 patent families (each family can comprise several individual patents).

Over the past year, we have contributed many valuable inventions to the 5G standard, inventions that enable enhanced experiences, extended services, expansion of deployments, and improved operations for smart devices, IoT devices, and connected cars. These inventions cover features for extended reality, advanced beamforming, reduced complexity, power saving, small data transmission, sidelink and non-terrestrial networks – and more.

Some patents are more valuable than others

These are just a few examples, and in fact, thanks to the hard work of Nokia inventors and our patenting experts we recently passed the milestone of 6,000 patent families declared as essential to 5G. We are pleased to have reached this landmark but really it is the quantity of high-quality patents that matters when it comes to the strength of a 5G patent portfolio.

The reason for this is simple. Some patents are more relevant and more fundamental and therefore more valuable than others. So quality is crucial and at Nokia we focus on quality.

The only inventor of cellular technology to have achieved ISO 9001 certification

And it's why we are (as far as we are aware) the only inventor of cellular technology to have achieved ISO 9001 certification - the world’s best-known standard for quality management - for patent portfolio management. The independent certification assessed every step of Nokia’s patent portfolio management process covering the entire lifetime of the patents.

The market and the courts are the ultimate measure of patent quality

We have been ranked among the top in several third-party studies for our 2G, 3G, 4G and 5G patents that have been declared essential for cellular standards. But ultimately the market and the courts are perhaps the best judge of the strength of a patent portfolio. And over the past year, the world’s two leading smart phone companies have both looked at our portfolios, seen the strength of our assets, and agreed licenses without litigation. As you can see from the chart below, we have a proven track record for continually renewing our agreements stretching back many years, with over 200 licensees across all our licensing programs.

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Of course, sometimes it is necessary to defend and prove the value of your inventions through the legal system. Again, here Nokia has a very strong track record, with positive judgments from courts around the world for both our cellular technology and our multimedia inventions. 

Building the future

With our cutting-edge work in standardization and our leading 5G patent portfolio, Nokia is driving the delivery of the next generation of cellular connectivity, including 5G Advanced and 6G.

In fact, my colleague Antti Toskala, Bell Labs Fellow and Head of 3GPP Radio Standardization at Nokia, only recently celebrated a remarkable milestone of over 100 3GPP Plenary meetings. In an interview he gave for the 3GPP newsletter this month, he was happy to say that we are on track with the standardization of 5G-Advanced; the first specifications are now published, and very soon the industry can start implementing its first features. He also stressed the importance of teamwork – Nokians are active in almost every working group, and collaboration is key to achieving the greater good.

We are deeply engaged in leading and influencing standards and developing new SEPs. Sustainable technology leadership requires us to anticipate, shape and invest in the next technology wave. Our innovations, research assets and intellectual property provide us the platform to take the long-term view.

This is why we are so proud of our 5G innovation portfolio – with every new innovation filed, we are one step closer to the next generation of connectivity.

Tuomas Saukkonen

About Tuomas Saukkonen

Tuomas is the Head of Cellular Standards Patent Portfolio at Nokia Technologies. He has extensive experience of licensing cellular Standard Essential Patents and global litigation concerning patent essentiality and validity.

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