[Monday, 09 October 2017: Brussels] Leading European innovators and international companies developing 5G and the Internet of Things technologies have met to discuss the development of a best practice industry code of conduct on licensing Standard Essential Patents (SEPs).
Their backing for a best practice industry code of conduct was given at the kick-off meeting of a CEN-CENELEC  Workshop Agreement (CWA) project, held in Paris.
A copy of the draft project plan can be found here. The code of conduct will establish best practice SEP licensing arrangements for the future Internet of Things marketplace. The goal is to help technology contributors and users in the IoT ecosystem find FRAND (Fair, Reasonable and Non-Discriminatory) outcomes to licensing negotiations, and avoid the further spread of litigation.
Project proponents include leading organisations in the European technology sector, that are also IP Europe members or scientific advisors: Nokia, Ericsson, Orange, France Brevets, and Fraunhofer Gesellschaft.
The workshop is being held against the backdrop of an upcoming communication from the European Commission on the system of FRAND licensing of Standard Essential Patents. Supporters of the FRAND system unanimously agree that it is essential to maintaining the balanced benefits that open standards deliver to developers of connectivity technologies, the developers and manufacturers that use them, and European consumers.
Mr Kerry MILLER, head of IP Regulatory Affairs at Nokia (who has been appointed to chair the workshop), said: “It is pleasing that despite the contentious nature of this debate, CEN and CENELEC managed to bring so many important stakeholders around the table today to discuss the development of an industry code of conduct on SEP licensing.”
“We have already heard from a number of other technology firms that they are considering joining the process. Our hope is that more standards implementers will join the workshop and our effort to safeguard good-faith licensing negotiations. Our vision is for simple, transparent, open and efficient licensing in the Internet of Things marketplace – especially for those manufacturers likely to want to implement connectivity standards in their sector for the first time.”
Commenting on the contentious nature of early exchanges at the meeting today, Mr Francisco MINGORANCE, Executive Secretary of IP Europe, said: “Leading European technology companies, including the members of IP Europe, continue to invest and collaborate to complete 5G and IoT standards.”
“In order to ensure the continued success of the FRAND licensing system going forward, they are also committed to starting a broad effort targeted at providing guidance on licensing best practice; especially for those companies that are new to the standardisation environment, and for SMEs.”
“It is a pity that some companies have apparently decided not to participate in the workshop for now, even before the discussions on the creation of the Code of Conduct have begun. However, we are committed to continuing this work with the involvement of many different stakeholders in order to come to a balanced result. Only this will provide the continued incentives for the open standards development that has driven the growth of interoperability and the global smartphone market – and on which many manufacturers around the world rely.”
The code of conduct on SEP licencing is expected to be completed by the first quarter of 2018.
CEN-CENELEC Workshop Agreements (CWAs) – are projects conducted in accordance with a framework established by CEN, the European Committee for Standardization, and CENELEC, the European Committee for Electrotechnical Standardization, but they are not CEN-CENELEC standards. Project plans can be proposed by relevant parties and the process is controlled by CCMC, the CEN-CENELEC Management Centre. All organisations that support the project plan and objectives of the workshop are able to participate voluntarily.
Standard Essential Patents or ‘SEPs’ – are the connectivity technologies incorporated into generations of open connectivity standards, like 3G, 4G and the upcoming 5G standards, expected to form the architecture of the Internet of Things (IoT), and for which a patent license is required for all implementations compliant to the standards.
Open standards development – the system by which innovative companies contribute their best technologies and intellectual property to provide global access to a single best technological standard – has been industry best practice for 20 years and credited with driving device interoperability, and enabling greater competition and product innovation in the technology market.
About IP Europe
IP Europe brings together R&D intensive European companies and research institutes committed to innovation, from SMEs to global enterprises and non-profit research entities operating in a variety of industrial sectors. They all share a common goal: to maintain, at all policy levels, strong patent protection for innovators and support recognized fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory standardisation policies adopted by consensus that preserve fair compensation for innovators. IP Europe supports the use of Injunctive Relief against patent infringers and free riders that rely on R&D investments made by others to earn higher profits.
IP Europe was originally launched by Ericsson, Airbus and France Brevets. The Fraunhofer Gesellschaft participates in IP Europe in the capacity of scientific advisor.