The next Industrial Revolution will not only affect the smartphone and computer world but will also have an impact on considerably more industrial verticals, including automotive, home appliances, manufacturing, energy and healthcare. Estimates suggest that half of the worldwide data traffic of the next five years will no longer result from people’s usage, but instead will be generated by vehicles, machines, meters, sensors, medical instruments, or various other types of networked devices without any human interaction. Standards such as 5G allow for the handling of extensive amounts of data to connect industrial machinery and robots, thus enabling remote control, monitoring and repair actions, as well as industrial automation. From smart grids to drone control, energy and utilities, companies will rely on standards to handle connectivity demands. Over the next few years, as advanced 5G cellular technology replaces existing protocols, these developments will occur swiftly. The worldwide adoption of 5G technology is expected to contribute up to $2 trillion to the global economy over the next 15 years. While 5G will be widely adopted across industries beyond the smartphone world, 5G is subject to hundreds of thousands of SEPs that every 5G implementer will be required to use. Although the licensing of 4G and 5G is mostly understood in the smartphone world, with multiple SEP holders having already publicly declared 5G SEP rates for smartphones, the licensing of SEPs in industries such as the automotive sector, manufacturing, home appliances, energy or healthcare is still something of an unknown factor. It is expected that most patent holders will actively monetize and enforce their SEP portfolios covering connectivity standards in this fast-moving, high-investment environment. Negotiating and operating in a complex SEP environment will be a major challenge for 5G adopters. The SEP-related global royalty income in 2020 was estimated at $20 billion, yet market researchers foresee a strong increase in the compound annual growth rate of royalty income over the upcoming years due to the wide implementation of 5G beyond smartphones. Experts, however, anticipate that the industry will not always align on FRAND rates for 5G SEPs, yielding numerous SEP-related litigation in the years to come.

The very latest figures on 5G declared patent families provides a crucial snapshot of a fast-evolving space and reveals which companies are pulling ahead.

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