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Posts Tagged: "standard essential patents"

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.

SEPs in Europe and Beyond: Highlights From 2021

Even as Europe and the rest of the world continued to face the unprecedented challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2021, the development of 5G and other Standard Essential Patent (SEP)-enabled technology standards has continued at an unabated pace. While the year has not yet ended, more than 100,000 technical contributions have already been submitted at 3GPP meetings for 2G, 3G, 4G and 5G in 2021 – a near-record yearly contribution count. The invention and standardization of massive, complex communication technologies continues to generate significant numbers of SEPs. According to IPlytics data, the cumulative number of self-declared SEP families has surpassed 72,000 in 2021, indicating a five-fold increase in just 10 years.

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.

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.

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.

Drilling Down on Criticism of Top-Down Approach to Determining Essentiality

Last week, an article was published on the Social Science Research Network (SSRN) website by Matteo Sabattini, who is the director of IP Policy at Ericsson. SSRN is an open research paper repository that does not peer-review any articles that are uploaded. Sabattini’s new article, a summary of which was also recently published on IPWatchdog, is titled, “When is a portfolio probably standard-essential?” and cites several studies that determined the overall essentiality rate for 4G and 5G. Here, Sabattini cites the Concur IP study that was part of the expert witness report of witness Dr. Zhi Ding in the TCL v. Ericsson litigation case, as well as several studies published by David Edward Cooper from Hillebrand Consulting, who is an Ericsson commissioned subject matter expert and who also testified in court, e.g. for the Unwired Planet v. Huawei case. Finally, Sabattini also mentions the EU commission 2017 study conducted by IPlytics:

The Burden of Proof regarding Cellular Wireless Standard Related Patents: Final Thoughts for Our Critics

Do owners of patents for which licensing declarations have been made enjoy more rights than other patent holders? Do such licensing declarations impose obligations on potential licensees rather than on patent holders? Should prospective licensees have no right to challenge such patents? In another responsive article, that is what one commentator claims our series of articles on IPWatchdog asserted, although we never wrote or suggested anything of the sort. In doing so the commentator employs intentionally misleading language like “declared essential patents” to characterize such licensing declarations as claims of essentiality, and “prov[ing]… licenses are needed” which, as will be explained, is not possible. These hyperbolic assertions are commonplace in the world of standards related patents, as are straw-man arguments concocted by implementers trying to escape the need to take a license. While we appreciate that all of this comes down to innovators wanting to be paid for their innovations embodied in standards and implementers wanting to pay less, or nothing, for using those innovations, we’d prefer the debate to be without histrionics and hyperbole. We hope this final response will clear up any remaining misconceptions. 

The SSPPU is the Appropriate Royalty Base for FRAND Royalties for Cellular SEPs

A recent series of five articles on IPWatchdog address various aspects of licensing cellular standard essential patents (SEPs) on fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory (FRAND) terms by examining statements from entities involved with licensing. The authors also provide their commentary on the statements and cite various authorities that they suggest are consistent or inconsistent with principles advocated in the statements. The articles lean heavily in favor of the positions of a few companies that derive significant revenue from SEP licensing. For this reason, they fail to present a balanced view. Indeed, to read the series, one might conclude that the major priority for SEP licensing should be to extract excessive revenues for SEP patent owners. Quite the contrary, a key priority should be applying FRAND safeguards against outsized, windfall profits resulting from abuse of SEPs to the detriment of innovative companies that engage in research and development and supply products to the marketplace. Those safeguards include applying well-established principles of patent law to SEPs, including when it comes to patent valuation and patent litigation, where a patent holder is rewarded with fair royalties that reflect the incremental value of any infringed and valid SEP.

SEP Litigation Trends: What Does the Data Say?

Standard-essential patents (SEPs) are on the rise as the number of yearly newly declared patents has almost tripled over the past five years; there were 6,457 net new declared patent families in 2015 compared to 17,623 yearly net new declared patent families in 2020 (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, on the one hand, the sharply increasing number of SEP filings, and on the other, the shift from connectivity standards (e.g. 4G/5G, Wi-Fi) mostly incorporated in computers, smart phones, and tablets to new industry applications where standards are implemented in connected vehicles, smart homes, smart factories, smart energy and/or healthcare applications.

A Standard Essential Patent Valuation Perspective on Ericsson v. Samsung

As the battle over the adequate forum for Ericsson v. Samsung continues, the question arises as to how the court will eventually deal with the valuation of the standard essential patents (SEPs) at stake. Here, the U.S. courts are at an advantage. After all, the United States has from the outset illustrated global thought leadership on the valuation of SEPs. Historically, courts have accepted two principal methods to determine the value of SEPs: the Comparable Licenses Approach and the Top Down Approach. These methods have come to be seen as compatible with the Georgia Pacific Criteria, which set out the core valuation principles in the United States and, increasingly so, even beyond U.S. borders.

5G RAN Developments: Challenges and Opportunities for Patent Licensing in a 5G Future

Much has been said about how 5G will better use the airwaves, giving wings to new communications between people and between devices. Little has been said though about how 5G could change markets and industries. The equipment market for the radio access network (RAN) is a good example of just one market that is now caught in the updraft of such change. Another market bound to rise is the market for patent licensing—and, in particular, standard essential patent licensing for 5G RAN. To help make sense of the 5G patent licensing market,  we have developed an AI-based 5G landscaping tool to help identify and weigh the relative patent portfolios (OPAL) and an indexed repository of all technical contributions made to 3GPP 2G-5G standardization work (OPEN).