As the application of 5G will differ from industry to industry, 5G licensing mechanisms will need to be more flexible. SEP owners will have to strike a balance between offering different pricing structures for different use cases and providing mechanisms that avoid stickiness.

Most industry experts predict that licensing 5G patents will be more complex than in earlier generations such as 3G or 4G. The 5G standard will have more specifications, which can be combined but also used separately. Companies will therefore implement different 5G specifications depending on the specific 5G use or implementation (eg, a smartphone will use different 5G features from a car, refrigerator or medical device). As different 5G specifications are subject to different SEPs, it will be a challenge in licensing negotiations to define which patents will be needed and thus licensed in the final 5G standard implementation. Patent owners will have to find efficient ways to set up 5G licensing programmes for different uses. As such, it will be important to offer different pricing structures to accommodate this.

It is highly likely that 5G will not be licensed on its own, but rather in combination with other standards subject to patents. Figure 1 shows the number of declared 2G, 3G, 4G and 5G families by year of declaration. The data, provided by IPlytics Platform, reveals that the total number of patent declarations has increased dramatically since 2015 and will probably continue to do so in the next few years. Since 2018, most patent families have been declared to 5G specifications. Readers should keep in mind that the figure counts redeclared families for each standard generation; in other words, a patent family declared as 4G and 5G is counted twice – once for each standard generation.

Number of declared patents, as well as the number of standard contributions, has increased sharply. This suggests that cellular communication standards advance quickly but become more complex at the same time.

The report was conducted using IPlytics Platform

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