Apple Offers Royalty-Free Patent Licenses to Push Proposed Nano-SIM Standard

Last week, we noted that Apple was still pushing to have its "nano-SIM" design adopted as the official next-generation standard to further reduce the size of the removable cards that include subscriber information and activation capabilities for mobile phones and other devices connecting to cellular networks. While the company has received the backing of a number of European carriers in its effort to roll out the new standard, other hardware companies are putting out their own proposals.

ipad 2 sim tray
FOSS Patents now reports that it has seen a letter sent by Apple to the European Telecommunications Standards Institutes (ETSI) committing to offer royalty-free license to its nano-SIM design patents should it be adopted as the next-generation standard and holders of other patents related to the standard offer similar terms to ease adoption.

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.

A move to a smaller SIM card standard would enable Apple to design smaller and thinner devices or to utilize some of the space within existing device volumes for other components. With the tightly-packed configurations of today's mobile devices, even minor size reductions for a given component can open the door to smaller or better-peforming devices.

Apple has also reportedly been developing a micro dock connector for future iOS devices, a move which would similarly free up space for other uses given the substantial size of the 30-pin dock connector used in all iOS devices released to date.

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Top Rated Comments

Apple Knowledge Navigator Avatar
159 months ago
Why don't they use a device to load the data stored in the SIM directly on the iPhone?

Score: 18 Votes (Like | Disagree)
FSMBP Avatar
159 months ago
What's the point of smaller SIM if it needs a tray to hold it?

Smaller tray?
Score: 12 Votes (Like | Disagree)
navtis Avatar
159 months ago
Nano SIM

If they would only fit this to a Macbook Air it would be perfect.
Score: 11 Votes (Like | Disagree)
yg17 Avatar
159 months ago
The SIM "CARD" is one of the greatest inventions in mobile technology? Are you kidding me? Perhaps a great invention for the purpose of locking consumers into contracts?
You have the option of buying a full price unlocked phone from a retailer and a pay as you go SIM from any GSM (by GSM, I mean GSM/UMTS/HSPA/LTE - technologies of the same family that use SIMs) carrier and you won't be locked in any contract. If you don't like your carrier, buy a SIM from another one and put it in your phone.

That's harder to do on SIM-less CDMA carriers where you have to buy a phone from them. They might let you pay full price and sign up without a contract. I'm not sure. But you have to buy the phone from them, you don't get to choose from the vast selection of unlocked GSM phones out there and your phone can't usually be used on another CDMA carrier.

It's even harder to pull off in the US where 2 of the 4 major carriers are CDMA and the other two GSM carriers don't even use the same frequencies for 3G. But in Europe, it's more practical. Plus people in the US like getting phones for dirt cheap in exchange for a two year contract.


For being a tangible external eyesore and pain in the a**?
The SIM in most phones is underneath the battery cover. In the Phone, it's hidden away inside a tray. Put a bumper or case on your phone and you won't even see the tray. What phone are you using where the SIM is an external eyesore?


For holding back new phone designs for the last 15 years?
15 year old phone with a SIM card:


Recent phone with a SIM card:


Yup, looks like design has been held back thanks to the SIM card.


No, the SIM Card * (in it's current form) is not an innovation in my eyes. It's whole purpose could be easily generated through software to provide a more sophisticated, but user friendly application.
Hmm, what's more user friendly. Swapping a card between two phones which doesn't even take a minute. Or, installing software/drivers on your computer, then plugging your phone into a computer, then opening said software, then doing whatever's required in said software to update your phone.

Even my parents who are computer illiterate can swap a SIM card between two phones.


20 years from now people will be laughing at the notion of us sticking little pieces of cardboard into the side of our phones to make them work. Frankly, it's ridiculous, archaic and not fit for the 21st century.
I think in 20 years, we'll still be using SIM cards and laughing at your post.
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
applesith Avatar
159 months ago
I hope Apple gets screwed on this, for shafting the rest of the planet on LTE connectivity in the "new iPad".

It's not Apple's fault that LTE is pretty much non-existent in Europe.
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
deannnnn Avatar
159 months ago
However, good luck explaining that to an American, where their chained into 2-year contracts and a single carrier from birth to death.

I've had 3 of the 4 major US carriers thank you very much. Totally switching to #4 (Verizon) when the LTE iPhone comes out, too.
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)