Author: Dr. Tim Pohlmann
Published: March 1, 2017
Publication: IPlytics GmbH
Technical standardization can involve the integration of hundreds, thousands or even tens of thousands of technologies, many of which are protected by patents. Such “standard essential patents” (SEPs) are subject to a variety of unique contract and competition law issues and considerations. To support access to and use of standards, and to restrict abuses, many standards-setting organizations (SSOs) require that participants submit binding declarations to offer licenses to their SEPs on “fair reasonable and non-discriminatory” (FRAND) terms.
This study evaluates standard essential patents (SEPs) publicly declared at IEEE, and evaluates activities at IEEE since March 2015, when the IEEE adopted certain updates to its Patent Policy. Based on the publicly available information regarding SEP declarations to IEEE, the IEEE’s standard document publications, and other information concerning IEEE’s standard setting activities we derived the following conclusions.
- Technical contributions to IEEE come from a wide variety of companies, the majority of whom utilize blanket declarations, making “patent counting” a particularly poor methodology of assessing IEEE technical contributions;
- IEEE’s receipt of patent declarations since March 2015 are largely in line with historical precedent, and indicate a particularly active declaration process shortly after completion of the Patent Policy updates (i.e., there were a large number of declarations submitted subject to the terms of the new Patent Policy shortly after that policy was adopted);
- Standardization work at IEEE has continued to move forward in line with work levels prior to the IEEE IPR Policy updates; and
- New standardization work at IEEE has been at its highest levels ever since the IPR Policy updates were completed.
In short, and while we take no position in connection with the various substantive issues raised by the IEEE Patent Policy updates, the data indicates that contributions to IEEE standards, and technical work within IEEE working groups, continues apace.