Over the past year Apple has rounded up 318 LTE-related patents, giving the iPhone and iPad maker control over about 4.9 percent of the world-wide LTE patent collection. That's enough to put Apple in the top ten percent of LTE patent holders, and may be part of a defensive move to protect against new lawsuits from Samsung.
Most of the patents were purchased from Freescale and Nortel in 2011, according
to The Chosunilbo
. 44 of Apple's LTE-related patents were developed in house. Apple is also holds a majority stake in the patent firm Rockstar Birdco, giving the company access to an additional 116 LTE patents.
Rounding up so many patents "shows that Apple has been taking strategic steps to acquire intellectual property to prepare for potential legal disputes before it launches its own LTE smartphones," said a Korea Intellectual Property Office official.
Apple and Samsung have been locked in a legal fight for more than a year over mobile device patent infringement claims. Most recently, a U.S. Federal court gave Apple a big win by ruling its iOS devices didn't infringe on Samsung patents, while ruling the South Korean company infringed on several of Apple's. The jury in the case also awarded Apple over US$1 billion in damages.
Samsung said it would file patent infringement lawsuits against Apple if the company released any devices using LTE wireless technology. So far, however, it hasn't even though Apple's iPad with Retina Display is available in a model with LTE wireless data support.
Assuming Samsung plans to file an LTE patent infringement lawsuit against Apple, the company may be waiting until the next iPhone model is announced since it's rumored to include LTE wireless data support.