Update: Nokia has responded to reports that Apple is offering to license its nano-SIM patents royalty-free by claiming Apple does not have patents “essential to its nano-SIM proposal” (via ITworld):
“We are not aware of any Apple Intellectual Property which it considers essential to its nano-SIM proposal. In light of this, Apple’s proposal for royalty-free licensing seems no more than an attempt to devalue the intellectual property of others.”
In recent weeks, reports popped up that suggest Apple is attempting to push a new standard for miniaturized SIM cards. In May 2011, Reuters reported Apple “submitted a new requirement to (European telecoms standards body) ETSI for a smaller SIM form factor.” More recent reports from the Financial Times confirmed other companies, including Motorola and Nokia, were attempting to push their own “nano-SIM” design. At the time, FT said Apple had support from “most of the European operators.” Ahead of the Smart Card Platform Plenary meeting with the European Telecommunications Standards Institute this Thursday and Friday, Foss Patents reports Apple is promising the ETSI it will license any Apple-owned patents related to nano-SIM free of charge to its competitors:
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.
Smaller SIM cards would theoretically allow Apple and others to build smaller, thinner mobile devices. One of the objections put forth by Motorola and Nokia regarding Apple’s proposed design was the use of a “drawer,” the small slot that ejects the current SIM cards on iPhones and iPads. We will be bringing you updates after the meetings with the ETSI later this week.