IP Europe a coalition of research and development-intensive organizations headquartered in Europe – and a number of international companies have published practical guidance for licensing Standard Essential Patents (SEPs) to help other businesses make 5G and IoT connected products with confidence. 

Previous generations of wireless standards have been implemented primarily in smartphones and the ICT sector. The 5G standard has been specifically designed to encourage new sectors to participate in building products and services for the Internet of Things (IoT). Many new companies – large and small – are expected to implement cellular standards in products for the first time. 

The guidance on how to navigate the cellular communications technology licensing environment reflects the consensus opinion on best practices and principles. This advice is set out in a CEN-CENELEC Workshop Agreement titled: “Principles and guidance for licensing Standard Essential Patents in 5G and the Internet of Things, including the Industrial Internet.” 

Kerry Miller, Chairman of the CEN-CENELEC Workshop, said: “The success of 5G and the IoT depends on its implementation by hardware manufacturers. The primary objective of the Workshop Agreement is to help more companies understand and navigate the SEPs licensing process. We want to make it easier for SMEs and other companies to access the 5G standard and develop connected products and services for the IoT. We succeed together. It is only this way that we can build and consolidate a true European innovation ecosystem.”

The CEN-CENELEC Workshop Agreement contains six best-practice principles for conducting Fair, Reasonable and Non-Discriminatory (FRAND) licensing negotiations, and supplementary guidance on current practices in the ICT sector. Additionally, a Q&A section provides answers to some of the fundamental questions that companies may have on first entering the licensing market. 

Fractus CEO and IP Europe’s SME Chair, Ruben Bonet stated:European companies, especially SMEs, have a huge opportunity to be at the forefront of developing connected products and services that will take advantage of the giant leaps in performance and capability that 5G offers. I believe these Principles and guidance will help SMEs better understand the cellular licensing process, making it easier for them to focus on delivering these innovative products and services to Europe and the entire world.”

The CWA guidance has also attracted positive feedback from the wider business community. According to Matthew Hitching, Canon: “Canon welcomes this initiative, having been able to participate in the creation of the CWA. We have a shared interest in realising the full potential of 5G and the IoT and very much welcomed the opportunity to share our views with the other participants in the creation of this document – many of which were considered and incorporated in the document. Guidance in this area is important and we hope that this CWA initiative will become a stepping stone for future discussions and efforts in further developing SEP licensing practices in this space.”

Signatories include:

  • Qualcomm
  • Cuirassier
  • OSTIUM Group
  • Vitirover
  • Nokia
  • Panasonic R&D Center Germany GmbH
  • Mitsubishi
  • Dolby Laboratories Inc.
  • Fractus
  • EnergySquare
  • InterDigital
  • Orange
  • Ericsson