The convergence of computing and mobile technologies continues to change our lives. A broad swatch of industries are coming together to build an “Internet of Things.” The entire ecosystem is focused on seamlessly stitching together our homes, cars, phones and watches in ways that will create endless opportunities to improve our healthcare, safety, and lifestyles. That seamless interconnectivity is made possible by technological standards, like WiFi, 4G, Bluetooth, etc., that are often developed collaboratively between several companies who own the patents to the relevant technologies.
Standards bring great value to consumers and enable healthy competition between innovators. When an innovator gives its technology to a standard, it has a clear path to being rewarded in the form of royalties from a market that likely would not have existed but for the standard. To get that bargain, a patent holder promises to license their patents on terms that are FRAND: Fair, Reasonable, and Non-Discriminatory. Increasingly, some companies that voluntarily gave their patented technologies to these standards under FRAND terms are abusing their unique position and reneging on those promises with unfair, unreasonable or discriminatory licensing and litigation practices. These practices not only threaten healthy competition and unbalance the patent system, but they also impact the viability of new markets like the nascent Internet of Things.
The importance of these issues to app developers and entire industries is why ACT | The App Association is launching the All Things Frand Project today. ACT represents more than 5000 app development companies from around the world and is committed to preserving innovation and accelerating the growth of markets like the Internet of Things through robust standards development. *We hope that All Things FRAND will help make these complex issues more approachable while providing a clearinghouse for judicial and administrative cases, agency guidance, academic articles, and other writings about standards and FRAND licensing.
This website will reflect the viewpoint of ACT and its supporters: that a strong, reliable patent system is a vital component of any innovative, healthy economy. From the United States to Europe to Asia, threats to the standards process and patent policies risk the vast potential for technology to solve critical global challenges. Patent policies that are being developed and enforced by governments and standards bodies today will directly impact the way we work, live and play for decades to come.
Because of the inter-connectedness of our economy and technology development, the collective decisions by policymakers, courts and regulators around the world create the conditions that weave the fabric of innovation. By paying attention to these issues now, we can collectively create a stronger fabric that creates the potential for more, not less, innovation.