Apple To Offer Nano-SIM Design Royalty-Free

Max ‘Beast from the East’ Smolaks covers open source, public sector, startups and technology of the future at TechWeekEurope.

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After fighting over the future SIM standard, Apple tries the diplomatic approach

Apple has offered royalty-free license to its nano-SIM design in an effort to make it a new international standard, reports the Foss Patents blog. The move is meant to placate the competitors, including Nokia, Rim and Motorola, who were concerned about using technology patented by Apple.

The next generation of SIM-card will be thinner and smaller than the micro-SIM used in the high-end smartphones today. Its design is due to be decided later this week at the Smart Card Platform Plenary meeting of the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI).

Setting standards and examples

Last week, Motorola, Nokia and RIM expressed their concern over Apple’s “nano-SIM” becoming a standard. The design is backed by most European mobile network operators, but some companies worry that it could give the iPhone maker an unfair advantage in the smartphone market.

However, it looks like Apple will not try to cash in on the nano-SIM. A reliable source has confirmed to Foss Patents that the company will grant a royalty-free, rather than FRAND, license to the miniature design if its proposal is adapted as standard. It also asks that all other patent holders accept the same terms in accordance with the principle of reciprocity.

A royalty-free licence will mean that not a single penny will be paid to Apple for the use of the nano-SIM design. This is uncharacteristic of the company which is famous for aggressively protecting its intellectual property, whether software or hardware.

The move takes the sting out of the tail of a group of industry players opposed to the Apple’s nano-SIM. They can no longer claim that Apple will control this new standard, if it does become one, with its patent rights.

Let’s not forget that Nokia has submitted a competing design to ETSI, which it claims offers “significant technical advantages”. The decision will be made this week, at an ETSI meeting on either Thursday or Friday.

Apple has a history of moving to smaller SIM cards early. Its jump to micro-SIMs in the iPhone and iPad led to accusations of an attempt to lock customers into its products. The company has been promoting the even-smaller SIM design for around a year.

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