Earlier this week, Apple was granted a patent for the SIM card connector design that is found in most mobile devices. It is a critical step for the company, not just in terms of future mobile initiatives, but also in fending off rivals over the evolution on the technology.
Apple’s Nano-SIM Design
Apple and Nokia, in particular, have been feuding over the future of SIM card connector designs. That’s because the European Telecommunications Standards Institute agreed to set clear polices, which has something to do with how its member companies license relevant patents.
In fact, ETSI postponed its vote for the nano-SIM technology last March, as the two companies were not able to reach an agreement. The feud rooted from Nokia’s refusal to license its SIM patents of the organization chooses Apple’s design.
Motorola Mobility and Research in Motion were concerned that the iPhone maker could own the patents relevant to the nano-SIM design. They also believed that the use of a smaller SIM card would require a special “drawer” to protect the card.
Prior to this, the Cupertino-based company pledged royalty-free licensing of its now official nano-SIM design, provided that ETSI will rule on its favor. But Nokia panned the offer publicly, saying that it is “an attempt to devalue the intellectual property of others”. A few months later, the organization awarded the design patent to the company.
Apple’s Nano-SIM Patent Design: What’s in Store for Other Phone Manufacturers?
Apple’s latest patent award from the United States Patent and Trademark Office last December 25 details various methods of inserting or ejecting a SIM card. Aside from that, the technology protects the card and device from damage, should the SIM be inserted improperly.
Although the “plunger system” or SIM ejection tool is specifically cited in the filing, iPhone and iPads are not the only products that it covers. It is also applicable to media centers, MacBooks, or large screen displays.
On the other hand, Apple’s victory from ETSI may compel Nokia and other rivals to concede to the company’s current leadership in the industry. Moreover, there’s a possibility that competing phone manufacturers will withdraw dozens of their rival SIM card-related patent filings that are still pending. As reported by AppleInsider last March:
The nano-SIM standard aims to replace the MicroSIM card, which was originally pushed by Apple in 2010 with the launch of iPhone 4. Apple’s new nano-SIM would be about a third smaller than MicroSIM, allowing smartphone makers to potentially build even smaller devices.