In a landmark development, eight phone importers including Samsung India Electronics and Spice Mobile have united against the patent owner of dual SIM handsets.

Dual SIM Mobiles

Dual SIM phones are those that have two SIM card slots, allowing users to use multiple connections simultaneously on the same device. Dual mode phones, on the other hand, let you access two technologically different networks – GSM and CDMA. Both use the same principle of incorporating 2 SIM card holders in a handset. According to Business Standard, an estimated 100,000 dual-SIM phones are sold every month in India.

The Inventor

Somasundaram Ramkumar from Madurai had filed a patent for dual SIM card mobile phones in 2002 at the Indian patent office and was awarded the patent last year. His patent application can be viewed here. He had approached the Office of the Commissioner of Customs of Chennai Airport to stop clearing shipments of the phones until he receives his royalty fees.

Royalty

Patent owners are to receive a mutually agreed upon payment for use of their ideas in a commercial product, which is called a royalty fee. In India, the concept of acknowledging ownership and copyrights is still rising and patent awareness is poor, even amongst corporates. To give a sense of the amount, royalty fees on computers and consumer electronics is 2% of the MRP, but in the telecom sector, royalty fees range from 2-10%, according to Wikipedia. In this case, Ramkumar is said to have asked for Rs 35 per phone shipped into the country, which we think is quite reasonable.

Samsung’s Petition Withdrawn

Samsung India Electronics had filed a petition challenging the impounding of its stocks of dual SIM phones by Indian customs authorities in Mumbai, but the Delhi High Court dismissed it. The vendor is planning to take it up with the Mumbai High Court now, according to Financial Chronicle. The industry body Indian Cellular Association has been roped in to take it up with the customs authority even as other handset vendors watch and wait to see what happens. Spice Mobile offers four dual SIM handsets – D-80, D-88, D-90 and PDA phone D-1100. Samsung‘s Duo phone was recently launched as a dual mode phone in the touch screen mobile segment and its . Fly (Meridian Mobile) and Motorola have also launched dual SIM mobiles.

Meanwhile, the Madras High Court has directed retailers and even online shopping sites such as Rediff and Ebay to stop selling dual SIM phones, which have been quite popular in the country. Backed by the clout of the courts, Ramkumar has a good chance of winning this war against alleged IP theft.

(Update: changed to indicate that IP theft is alleged)