Apple Offers Royalty Free License For Its Nano-SIM Patents


Last week, we reported that Apple was fighting for an even smaller SIM card for future iPhones and iPads and was up against rivals such as Motorola, RIM and Nokia who have proposed “nano-SIM” cards as the next industry standard for miniaturized SIM cards to European Telecommunications Standards Institutes (ETSI).

Rivals such as Motorola, RIM and Nokia were concerned that Apple’s smaller SIM card standard requires a drawer (SIM card tray) to protect it and were also concerned that Apple may end up owning the patents.

It looks like Apple has addressed at least one of the concerns. FOSS Patents now reports that according to a “reliable source“, Apple has sent a letter to ETSI offering a royalty free license to its nano-SIM design patents, if it gets adopted as next industry standard for miniaturized SIM cards.

A perfectly reliable source that I can’t disclose has shown me a letter dated March 19, 2012 that a senior Apple lawyer sent to ETSI. The letter addresses the primary concern of critics of the proposal. The FT said that “the Apple-led proposal has caused some concern among its rivals that the US group might eventually own the patents”. But Apple’s letter has removed this roadblock, if it ever was any, through an unequivocal commitment to grant royalty-free licenses to any Apple patents essential to nano-SIM, provided that Apple’s proposal is adopted as a standard and that all other patent holders accept the same terms in accordance with the principle of reciprocity.

FT reports that ETSI members will decide on the proposals this week. Apple is backed by most of the European operators. Apple has also registered six of its European subsidiaries to become full members, which should significantly increase its number of votes.

While it remains to be seen if Apple will be able to prevail over its rivals, one thing is certain, get ready to replace your SIM cards.