Posts Tagged: "FRAND"

Return of the ‘Hold-Up’ Bogeyman: Analyzing the 2021 Draft Policy Statement on SEPs Subject to Voluntary F/RAND Commitments (Part III)

In Part II of this series, we considered the language of a specific licensing commitment made to European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) and the prevailing law relating thereto. In this Part III, we consider the 2021 Draft Policy Statement with a particular view to highlighting its inconsistencies with the ETSI framework and the inapplicability of the hold-up narrative to the situation involving an individual United States patent. Despite its purported purpose of providing the agencies’ views on “remedies for the infringement of standards-essential patents (or SEPs) that are subject to a RAND and/or F/RAND licensing commitment”, the 2021 Draft Policy Statement does not take a clear position on this issue, instead merely stating the following (some might say “the obvious”):

Property Rights Groups Urge Garland and Kanter to Withdraw ‘Misguided’ Policy Statement on SEPs Subject to FRAND

On January 12, a coalition of 28 property rights groups signed a letter addressed to U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland and Assistant Attorney General for Antitrust Jonathan Kanter asking those officials to reconsider and withdraw a draft policy statement issued in early December regarding licensing negotiations and remedies for standard-essential patents (SEPs) subject to voluntary fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory (FRAND) commitments. According to the coalition, the U.S. Department of Justice’s (DOJ) statement will only serve to bolster the fortunes of China, the major economic rival to the United States, by allowing Chinese tech implementers to infringe SEPs without respect to the rights of U.S. innovators.

Understanding the Latest Draft Policy Statement on SEPs Subject to Voluntary F/RAND Commitments (Part I)

Much like a biological ecosystem, the development, commercialization, and licensing of standardized technologies involves a delicate balance among many diverse and competing participants. The 2021 Draft Policy Statement on Remedies for Standards-Essential Patents Subject to Voluntary F/RAND Commitments (hereinafter “the 2021 Draft Policy Statement”), however, appears to be primarily concerned with an issue faced exclusively by implementers when dealing with owners of larger patent portfolios, but without explicitly saying so. This observation is based on the 2021 Draft Policy Statement’s reference to the vague and ill-defined notion of patent “hold-up”.

The Federal Government Should Reinstate the 2019 Policy Statement on Standard Essential Patents

The Justice Department’s December 6, 2021 Draft Policy Statement on Licensing Negotiations and Remedies for Standards-Essential Patents Subject to Voluntary F/RAND Commitments (“2021 DPS”) badly misses the mark and merits a failing grade. By contrast, the 2019 PS (issued by the Justice Department, NIST, and the U.S. PTO) is eminently sound, and merits being reaffirmed. The DPS should be viewed in the context of the benefits conferred on society by patents that read on standards, commonly referred to as standard essential patents (SEPs). Given the economic importance of SEPs, public policy should encourage investment in them and ensure that they receive adequate legal protection. Such sound policies inform the New Madison Approach (NMA), publicly described by Assistant Attorney General for Antitrust Makan Delrahim in 2018.

Five Key Patent Developments in Europe for 2021

As part of its review of 2021, IPWatchdog takes a look back on five patent stories from the past year in Europe, and highlights what further developments to expect in 2022. In 2021, Europe took a giant leap towards the implementation of the Unitary Patent and Unified Patent Court (UPC). After years of delays arising from disputes over rules and language, the U.K. signing up and then withdrawing, and constitutional objections filed in Germany, it now seems highly likely that the new system will launch in late 2022. The pivotal step in this process was the decision by Germany’s Federal Constitutional on July 9 to reject as inadmissible two applications seeking to prevent the country from ratifying the UPC Agreement. (BVerfG, Beschluss des Zweiten Senats vom 23. Juni 2021- 2 BvR 2216/20 -, Rn. 1-81.) Following the decision, reported on IPWatchdog here, Germany ratified the Protocol on the Provisional Application of the UPCA, and Slovenia also did so in October.

One Thumb Up for the New Draft Administration Statement on FRAND Licensing

On December 6, the Department of Justice – Antitrust Division (DOJ), U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), and National Institutes of Standards and Technology (NIST) issued for public comment a “draft revised statement on remedies for the infringement of standards-essential patents (or SEPs) that are subject to a RAND or F/RAND licensing commitment, which also provides guidance on what demonstrates good-faith negotiation in this context.” The 2021 SEP Licensing Draft Statement responds to President Biden’s Executive Order on Competition, which called on the agencies to review the 2019 Trump Administration Statement dealing with SEP infringement remedies. The 2019 Statement in turn excised the anti-IP language from a 2013 Obama Administration Statement on this topic.

DOJ Issues Revised Draft Joint Policy Statement on Remedies for SEPs Subject to FRAND

The U.S. Department of Justice – Antitrust Division (DOJ) is requesting public comment on a new iteration of the Joint DOJ-USPTO-NIST Policy Statement on Remedies for Standards-Essential Patents Subject to Voluntary FRAND Commitments. The announcement comes in response to President Joe Biden’s July 2021 Executive Order on Promoting Competition in the American Economy, which asked the three agencies to review the 2019 statement.

Mechanisms, Governance, and Policy Impact of SEP Determination Approaches

Standard Essential Patents (SEPs) are on the rise; the number of newly declared patents per year has almost tripled over the past five years. There were 17,623 new declared patent families in 2020, compared to 6,457 in 2015 (see Figure 1). The 5G standard alone counts over 150,000 declared patents since 2015. Similarly, litigation around SEPs has increased. One of the driving factors of recent patent litigation is the shift in connectivity standards (eg, 4G/5G, Wi-Fi) that in the past were mostly used in computers, smartphones and tablets, but are now increasingly implemented in connected vehicles, smart homes, smart factories, smart energy and healthcare applications. Another reason why litigation may rise further is the belief that large SEP owners such as Huawei, ZTE or LG Electronics may soon sell parts of their SEP portfolios, which may likely end up in the hands of patent assertion entities (PAEs). One way or another, it is anticipated that the majority of patent holders will actively monetize their SEPs covering standards such as 5G, Wi-Fi 6 or VVC in this fast-moving, high-investment environment. Any company adopting these standards must decrease operational risk and expense exposure by taking a proactive strategy towards SEPs rather than a reactive one.

The State of the SEP Ecosystem: Eight Takeaway Messages from SEP 2021

Last week, IPWatchdog hosted its annual SEP conference, which once again took place in virtual format. I either moderated or directed/produced all the panels, so I stayed busy throughout the week, but still managed to pay attention to what was being said by the panelists. For some panels I participated more, making it a bit more challenging to take notes, so when I say what follows are statements that particularly piqued my interest, I am by no means suggesting there weren’t many more golden nuggets of wisdom imparted to the over 900 registrants over our four-day program.

Virtual SEP 2021 Day One: Panelists Weigh in on the State of the SEP Ecosystem and More

tandard Setting Organizations (SSOs) exist as a mechanism for industry innovators to work together to collectively identify and select the best and most promising innovations that will become the foundation for the entire industry to build upon for years to come. Those disclosing patented technologies to an SSO during the development of a standard commit to offering a license at a FRAND (which stands for Fair, Reasonable and Non-Discriminatory) rate to the extent the patent is essential, as explained by Curtis Dodd, Chief IP Counsel for Harfang IP, during the second panel of SEP 2021 yesterday, which focused on FRAND and patent damages. Indeed, the myriad issues surrounding FRAND obligations and the disclosure of innovations to SSOs were the focus of the three panels that took place on day 1 of SEP 2021, hosted by IPWatchdog.

Judge Upholds UK Power to Set FRAND Terms

A judge has affirmed the ability of the UK courts to settle FRAND terms of a patent license covering foreign patents, despite the defendants challenging the court’s jurisdiction. But in his judgment, published on November 4 20201, His Honour Judge Hacon noted that the current framework for settling a global license between owners of standard essential patents (SEPs) and implementers “is plainly not satisfactory.” He explained: “[I]t does encourage expensive parallel litigation in several jurisdictions and more uncertainty than is necessary. I doubt that it can be sustained in the long term.” The case is one of many that SEP owners have brought before the courts since the UK Supreme Court judgment in the Unwired Planet and Conversant litigation established English courts’ jurisdiction to set global FRAND terms in August 2020.

IP/Antitrust Policy Changes are Afoot in the Biden Administration’s DOJ

The intersection of intellectual property (IP) and antitrust law is again a hot debate after a recent speech by the U.S. Department of Justice Antitrust Division’s (“DOJ” or “Division”) Economics Director of Enforcement, Jeffrey Wilder, titled Leveling the Playing Field in the Standards Ecosystem: Principles for a Balanced Antitrust Enforcement Approach to Standards-Essential Patents. Before we dive in on the key takeaways from the speech, and our thoughts on potential ramifications, it bears briefly mentioning how we got here.

Jonathan Kanter Responses to Senate Provide Insight on Approach to Antitrust-IP Nexus

On July 20, President Joe Biden nominated Jonathan Kanter as Assistant Attorney General, a position that would place him at the head of the Antitrust Division at the Department of Justice. Kanter is an antitrust lawyer with over 20 years of experience. He is currently a partner at The Kanter Law Group LLP, which is a boutique antitrust law firm that advocates in favor of federal and state antitrust law enforcement. Prior to founding the The Kanter Law Group, he was Co-Chair of the antitrust practice at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton, and Garrison LLP. Kanter also served as an attorney for the U.S. Federal Trade Commission’s Bureau of Competition. 

From SEP to Deal: Insights On an Often Long and Challenging Process

In this article, we’re going back to basics and discussing why our smartphones work everywhere, doing things closer to science fiction of the 1960s or 70s than anyone would have believed, as well as the role that Standard Essential Patents (SEPs) play in making this happen. We are going to examine inherent conflict between innovators and inventors that create new products and services, patent their inventions, and the implementors that leverage and deploy those inventions. Most of all, we’re going to discuss the process that converts these inventions and patents into money. A lot of money. Millions, tens of millions, and sometimes even billions of dollars. Why? Because your smartphone would be a paperweight without these innovations and patents. And soon vehicles, home appliances, production lines, meters, healthcare devices and many more industries will follow.

Allegedly ‘Late’ Disclosure of IP Rights to ETSI Does Not Make Patents Unenforceable in the U.S. or UK

Two recent court decisions in the United States and the United Kingdom, respectively, have considered (i) the disclosure obligation pursuant to Clause 4.1 of the European Telecommunications Standards Institute’s (ETSI) Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) Policy, and (ii) the impact this has on the enforceability of a patent subject to the Policy…. Both decisions were in the ongoing patent and fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory (FRAND) related litigations between Optis and Apple. In summary, the decisions confirmed that neither Optis nor its predecessors had breached their duty to disclose IPR to ETSI under clause 4.1, nor did the timing of their disclosures constitute egregious misconduct, so as to result in an implied waiver under U.S. law, or in the case of the UK, a proprietary estoppel, preventing or restricting enforcement of the patent.