Ericsson has signed its first license agreements for patents essential to next-generation mobile networks based on LTE (Long Term Evolution), it said on Tuesday.
The individual deals and their respective terms are confidential, so Ericsson won't name the companies that are now working on products that will support LTE, according to Gustav Brismark, vice president for patent strategies and portfolio management at Ericsson. But both infrastructure and end-user devices are included, he said.
In April last year Ericsson and Alcatel-Lucent, NEC, Nextwave Wireless, Nokia, Nokia Siemens Networks and Sony Ericsson announced that they had agreed on maximum aggregate costs for licensing patents that relate to LTE; a just level for handsets is, for example, a single-digit percentage of the manufacturer's sales price.
Ericsson has had that maximum aggregate cost in mind, according to Brismark. Also, manufacturers now have a reference when dealing with other patent owners, so they don't end up paying too much, he said.
Reasonable patent costs are important if the market is to take off, and it doesn't make much sense to charge more than the market can bear. "We want a fair return on our R&D investments, but we are at the same time also very interested that the market takes off," said Brismark.
Last month a number of companies, including Sisvel and Via Licensing, announced plans for setting up patent pools for LTE. But that doesn't interest Ericsson; it will only sign bilateral agreements.
"It's not in our best interest to turn this asset over to a third party... We are better at handling it ourselves," said Brismark.
He doesn't think the lack of a patent pool in the LTE sector will complicate matters much for manufacturers. Having a one-stop shop or a three-stop shop is not that much different, Brismark said.