Posts Tagged: "SEPs"

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.

Reexamining Three Preconceived Notions of SEPs as the 5G Patent Wars Ignite

5G—the next generation of telecommunications standards provided by the Third Generation Partnership Project (3GPP)—began implementation in 2019. It boasts significant technical benefits over prior generations, including higher speeds, greater bandwidth, lower latency, and larger coverage areas. Unlike previous 3GPP standards, 5G is not limited to cellular phones. Rather, 5G will support a plethora of technologies ranging from Enhanced Mobile Broadband to Massive Internet of Things. Accordingly, 5G will support a tremendous amount of economic activity: by 2026, 5G will have 3.5 billion subscribers and will account for 84% of mobile subscriptions in the United States. By 2035, 5G is expected to underly $13.1 trillion in global economic activity, accounting for 0.2% of the 2.7% projected annual global GDP growth.

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. 

Judge Koh Responses on Antitrust-IP Intersection Promise More of the Same

On October 5, the Senate Judiciary Committee considered the nomination of Judge Lucy Koh, currently of the U.S. Federal District for the Northern District of California, to an appointment by President Biden to the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. After that hearing, several Senators submitted written questions, which Judge Koh responded to last week. There is no indication that Judge Koh’s nomination to the Ninth Circuit is in jeopardy, but it is noteworthy, and at least somewhat unusual, numerous Senators asked Judge Koh virtually the same questions regarding her decision in FTC v. Qualcomm. This level of overlapping interest by multiple members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which IPWatchdog.com has learned was not coordinated and developed organically, is normally reserved for nominees to the Supreme Court, and even then, typically reserved to social or constitutional issues. So, even though it is believed Judge Koh can and will easily receive a favorable confirmation vote, the questions relating to the intersection of antitrust and patent law demonstrate a keen awareness and interest in these issues on the Senate Judiciary Committee.

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.

The Role of Standard-Essential Patents for the Auto Industry

Most market experts predict dramatic changes in the auto industry because of shifting consumer preferences, new business models and emerging markets. The sector also looks set to be heavily affected by new sustainability and environmental policy changes, as well as by upcoming regulations on security issues. These forces are predicted to give rise to disruptive technology trends, such as driverless vehicles, electrification and interconnectivity. Forecast studies posit that the smart car of the near future will be constantly exchanging information with its environment. Car-to-X or car-to-car communication systems will enable communication between cars, roadsides and infrastructure, while mechanical elements will soon be embedded into computing systems within the internet infrastructure. The auto industry is one of the first sectors to rely on Internet of Things (IoT) technologies, which connect devices, machines, buildings and other items with electronics, software or sensors. Interconnectivity across multiple vehicle parts and units relies on the specification of technology standards such as 4G or 5G, Wi-Fi, video compression (HEVC/VVC), Digital Video Broadcasting (DVB) and Near Field Communication (NFC) or the wireless charging Qi standard to name a few.

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.

Patent Damages Laws Regarding Apportionment are Inapplicable to Breach of Contract (FRAND) Claims

In a previous article, we discussed the difference between a reasonable royalty for patent infringement and a FRAND licensing rate, both in terms of their origins and objectives: the former being a creature of statute and case law that seeks to compensate a patent owner for infringement, whereas the latter is rooted in contract and seeks, amongst other things, to address issues of royalty stacking and discriminatory licensing. Despite these differences, we noted that these two concepts have often been treated interchangeably by courts, often leading to confusing results…. Pursuant to appeal of that decision, however, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit has now addressed the photonegative question in HTC Corp. et al. v. Telefonaktiebolaget LM et al., case number 19-40643: are patent laws regarding what constitutes a reasonable royalty applicable to questions of compliance with FRAND-related contractual obligations? Though the majority decision did a great job highlighting the distinction between these two different concepts, there was a concurring decision that continues to blur the line.

Fifth Circuit Affirms Texas Court’s Judgment that Ericsson Complied with FRAND Obligations

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit today affirmed an Eastern District of Texas court’s judgment for Ericsson, finding no error in the district court’s jury instructions, declaratory judgment or evidentiary rulings, and rejecting HTC Corporation’s allegations that Ericsson had breached its contractual obligation to offer a license on fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory (FRAND) terms. The case stems from HTC’s refusal of a 2016 licensing deal in which Ericsson proposed a rate of $2.50 per 4G device to license its standard essential patents for mobile devices. Although HTC had previously paid Ericsson about $2.50 per device for the patents under a 2014 licensing agreement, in 2016 the company independently assessed the value of Ericsson’s patents and ultimately proposed a rate of $0.10 per device in 2017, which was based on the “smallest salable patent-practicing unit.” According to the Fifth Circuit, Ericsson considered this “so far off of the norm” that negotiations stopped, and a few days later, HTC filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, alleging breach of FRAND terms.

Biden Executive Order’s Approach to SEPs Sells Out American Small Businesses and Innovators

President Joe Biden’s recent executive order was billed as “promoting competition in the American economy,” but is a prime example of why one should always read the fine print. Rather than boosting the technology and innovations that spur American competitiveness in the global marketplace, the Biden administration is pushing a directive that reinforces the dominance of technology giants like Apple and Google. Part of the executive order addresses the complex but essential way we protect those who develop standard technology – such as the shared technologies that make mobile communication possible across multiple networks. Standards enable critical technologies such as 5G, the Internet of Things, video transmission, artificial intelligence, and autonomous vehicles. Nations that develop these technologies and the standards they are based on will have a significant advantage in gaining the lead in the next industrial revolution.