Apple to offer royalty-free nano-SIM patents

The company steps up its efforts to have its proposal win later this week

The battle over next-generation nano-SIM card technology intensified after Apple sent a letter to the director general of standards organization ETSI, saying its proposal will be royalty-free, according to a report.

The letter, which was shown to patent analyst and blogger Florian Mueller by a source, said that Apple would grant royalty-free licenses to any Apple patents essential to nano-SIM, provided that the company's proposal is adopted as a standard and that all other patent holders accept the same terms, according to Mueller. Mueller declined to identify the source.

This week, Apple's proposal will go head-to-head with a competing one from Nokia, Research In Motion and Motorola Mobility, as the ETSI (European Telecommunications Standards Institute) decides which card future smartphones and tablets will use.

If the competing proposal isn't royalty-free, Apple's nano-SIM will have a key advantage that will affect the outcome of the vote, Mueller said via email.

Last week, Nokia detailed why its nano-SIM proposal is technically superior.

For example, it has completely different dimensions from today's micro-SIM cards, while Apple's proposed card has the same length as the width of current micro SIMs, and so would risk jamming if users tried to force it into devices, leading to card and product damage, Nokia said.

Also, Apple's proposal requires a tray, which increases cost and takes up more room. The latter would mitigate the advantages of having a smaller card, according to Nokia.

Apple did not respond to requests for comment on Nokia's claims. Neither Apple nor Nokia commented on the letter to ETSI.

The vote is scheduled to take place on Thursday, according to SIM card maker Giesecke & Devrient.

When the nano-SIM card eventually becomes standardized, its smaller size will free up room for additional memory and larger batteries, helping phone vendors create thinner devices, Giesecke & Devrient said.

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