Last updated: April 26, 2012 - 8:17am
Billions of dollars are being spent to amass patent arsenals, and lawsuits are flying worldwide. Apple, Samsung, Microsoft and Motorola Mobility (or Google, after that patent-inspired acquisition is complete) are the heavyweights in the fray, seeking an edge in the fast-growing smartphone market, using intellectual property as a weapon. Today’s high-stakes patent tussles center on the current generation of smartphone technology, so-called 3G. But the next generation, 4G, is just coming into the marketplace and is expected to become the mainstream smartphone technology over the next three to five years.
The march to 4G also opens the door to new vistas of patent litigation and licensing, according to iRunway, a patent research and advisory firm. The firm’s analysis points to a shift in the smartphone intellectual-property marketplace, with Samsung’s hand strengthening. Known as a handset and memory chip maker, Samsung has invested heavily in 4G technologies, especially those that enable the efficient use of high-speed bandwidth, power management and reliability, said Animesh Kumar, a co-founder of iRunway. Samsung , according to iRunway, is by far the largest holder of 4G patents. Apple, by contrast, does not make the top 10 in patent count.
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