LTE lawsuits threaten to sour Apple iPhone 5 launch

by Dale Wright

Just as the world waits with baited breath for the imminent unveiling of the much-acclaimed iPhone 5, a new twist in the on-going patent wars is threatening to turn the Apple party sour.
iPhone 5 invite

Having been litigator-in-chief over recent months, taking most of its main rivals to task for supposedly copying its device and component designs in a flurry of legal action which culminated in a $1 billion victory over arch rival Samsung, Apple now finds itself the focus of potential action over the systems it has incorporated in the new iPhone to make it compatible with super-fast 4G LTE broadband.

First, reports emerged that Taiwanese manufacturer HTC was ready to extend a lawsuit brought last year over the LTE connectivity systems used in iPads in the US to the new iPhones, if, as expected, the device uses the same hardware. Apple lawyers have complained that HTC only bought the property rights in question with the express intention of suing them.

Now, on the very eve of the expected iPhone 5 launch, reports in Korea are suggesting that Samsung itself is also lining up a similar action. Much of the jostling over LTE is over the complex business of which devices are optimized to operate on which bandwidths in which countries.

The threat of legal action should not cast an immediate shadow over the iPhone 5 launch, which is expected to mark a new chapter in smartphone technology. However, it does indicate the extent to which relations between the big players has soured, and just how much value they are all placing on the LTE market. Such scrapping was nowhere in sight over 3G wireless broadband, where the big companies agreed to share ‘essential’ technology under the FRAND regulations.