Mobile patents protect inventions related to devices developed for the telecommunications industry. This area overlaps with many other areas of research, such as mobile security and virtual reality, which makes applying for mobile patents a complicated process. Here's a closer look at the telecom industry, how it has grown in recent years, and the relationship between mobile technology, cellular networks, and other parts of the growing telecom industry.

Mobile Patents and Telecom Patents

Mobile patents overlap with the telecom industry, which has seen incredible growth in recent years. Inventors and corporations file thousands of patents every year, with companies like Samsung and LG setting records in terms of patents filed and granted.

Academic institutions are also rapidly researching telecommunications tech and filing mobile patents. Rice University, University of California Berkeley, and the State University of New York Stony Brook are the leaders in this category nationwide.

The telecom innovations that these companies and institutions develop, such as smartphones, rely on broadband technologies to function. Telecom innovations fall under the category of mobile patents and also overlap with:

  • Optical network patents
  • Patents for personal data retrieval technology and social media tracking
  • Wearable technology and health tracking devices

Since all of these industries overlap, patent attorneys have their hands full ensuring telecom companies don't infringe on any rights related to past inventions and that the patents that companies do file are truly new and unique. Companies in the telecom space are also notorious for acquiring other businesses and their intellectual property. These matters all greatly involve mobile patents and related technologies.

Published Patents in the Technology Industry

The World Intellectual Property Organization lists the following fields as submitting the most patents in the tech industry:

  • Computer technology
  • Digital communications
  • Electrical machinery
  • Medical technology
  • Transportation technology

Many patents come from the United States, but nations such as Japan, China, Germany, Korea, France, and the UK are also leaders in terms of tech patents. It's also clear that interest in this field is booming. In 2015, the number of patents granted grew over 8 percent year over year, and the U.S. Patent Office reports a 447 percent increase in the number of mobile patents granted over the past 10 years. In fact, by 2016 roughly a quarter of all patents that the U.S. Patent Office granted were related to mobile technology.

New areas such as 5G network technology, virtual reality, mobile security, and internet-of-things devices are hotbeds for mobile patents. For example, Ericsson filed a landmark mobile patent application related to 5G architecture. This patent set a record as the largest patent application in the cellular industry worldwide.

Patenting Privacy

Privacy is a major cause for concern among individuals who use mobile technology, but few filers have submitted patent applications in this area. In fact, filers only submitted 1,000 applications in 2014, an increase from just 100 in 2010.

Though companies such as Apple and Samsung are major producers of mobile devices, they aren't leading the race for security patents. ZTE Corp and Blackberry are the biggest trendsetters in terms of patents filed related to mobile privacy.

What Is FRAND?

With tech giants filing so many patents, innovation could be limited by excluding others from researching patented products or processes. Licensing under fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory (FRAND) terms is one solution to the issue of locking important innovations behind the control of one or two companies.

FRAND terms ensure that companies and inventors receive patent royalties. This gives the original creators acknowledgment and a reward for their work while also facilitating future developments in areas such as cellular technology, location-based services, mobile services, and network connectivity and expansion.

Patent Disputes

The tech industry is volatile, and patents and companies often change hands. For instance, Google now owns patents that Nokia, Ericsson, and Motorola originally filed. Though efforts like FRAND allow researchers to continue innovating, patent disputes are still common in the technology industry. 

In this sector, it's also common for companies to owe royalties to past inventors for the use of standard technologies that are essential to mobile products and processes. This was the case with Apple and Nokia for years, but the two companies recently reached a patent license agreement that settled all litigation.

If you need help with mobile patents, you can post your legal need on UpCounsel's marketplace. UpCounsel accepts only the top 5 percent of lawyers to its site. Lawyers on UpCounsel come from law schools such as Harvard Law and Yale Law and average 14 years of legal experience, including work with or on behalf of companies like Google, Menlo Ventures, and Airbnb.