There is an urgent need to set out key principles “to foster a balanced, smooth and predictable framework for SEPs” said the European Commission in its Communication setting out the EU approach to standard essential patents (SEPs), published on November 29 last year. The Communication provides guidelines on transparency, FRAND licensing and enforcement but stops short of taking a position on some of the most controversial issues in the standards debate.

The statement is the Commission’s latest attempt to address concerns about the licensing and enforcement of SEPs by balancing the interests of patent owners, who want a fair return on their investment, and those of implementers of the latest mobile technologies, who include phone and computer companies as well as manufacturers in industries such as cars and home appliances.

Both sides of the industry welcomed the communication. Francisco Mingorance of IP Europe, which represents companies including Airbus, Ericsson, Nokia and Orange, told Managing IP it will help to maintain Europe’s leadership role in 5G and the Internet of Things (IoT): “The Communication recognises some important elements in the IoT world and it is a good starting point which emphasises that this is a complex environment and there is no one-size-fits-all. Merely providing information about what is out there, such as the Huawei v ZTE decision, may already be useful particularly for SMEs.”

This is an excerpt from an article that appeared in Managing IP on 17 January 2018. You can read it in full here.