The European Commission (EC) presented measures to ensure intellectual property rights (IPRs) are “well protected”, including steps intended to deliver transparency and predictability to give “a head-start in the global technology innovation race”.
As part of a wide-ranging set of initiatives, the watchdog is addressing the issue of standard essential patents (SEPs), which have been the subject of a number of legal actions involving technology companies. These patents, which are necessary to comply with standards including LTE and Wi-Fi, need to be licensed at fair and reasonable rates to enable widespread adoption.
The EC said “Europe’s potential to lead in global technological innovation and fully grasp the potential of 5G and IoT” is being held back by a lack of transparency and predictability on the conditions under which such patents are to be declared, licensed and enforced. Navigating this may pose particular challenges for smaller players, including SMEs and start-ups in the IoT space, for example.
It said it now offers “guidance and recommendations for a balanced and efficient SEPs system where two objectives are reconciled: product manufacturers can access technologies under transparent and predictable licensing rules; and at the same time patent-holders are rewarded for their investments in R&D and standardisation activities so that they are incentivised to offer their best technologies for inclusion in standards”.
Noting the main responsibility to improve the process lies with market participants, the EC said it “aims to facilitate balanced, market-based solutions by outlining principles that SEP holders and implementers may wish to consider”.
Other areas the commission is looking at include stepping-up the fight against counterfeiting and piracy.
The EC will “closely monitor the progress on the proposed measures and assess the need for further steps”.