Q1: The first question I always ask invited guests on my “SEP couch” is how they ended up working with SEP related topics. It would be great if you could walk us through the most important positions in your career and tell us how and when you first got in touch with SEPs?

Our firm specialized in intellectual property and international business transaction.

As the SEP litigation become hot in whole world recently, foreign clients who have interest on SEP situation in Japan began to contact us to understand how SEPs are treated in Japan, especially how the court judgements and recent hot debate at various ministries are. They have a great interest on the reports the various ministries issued recently.


Q2: You are the founder of Abe & Partners. Please elaborate the legal service you provide and who clients are?

We work in wide areas of international and corporate matters with a focus on intellectual property law, competition law and international commerce.

The patent litigations our firm has participated covers the fields of IT and Telecommunications, electronics and machinery, pharmaceuticals, chemistry, which involve advanced technology such as semiconductors, biotechnology, etc., and which are cross-border matters.

We have extensive experience on representing and advising multinational and domestic clients and have advised them on FRAND matter.


Q3: You are an expert when it comes to SEPs and the law in Japan. Can you elaborate on the SEP cases that where litigated in Japan (e.g. Apple v Samsung or Sharp v Tesla) and what the outcome was?

We have few SEP cases so far.

Apple v. Samsung judgment was rendered in May 16, 2014. The IP High court held as follows:

Injunction will be deemed as an abuse of right if a party who intended to make and sell products pursuant to the UMTS standard was successful in proving that the patentee made FRAND declaration and that party intended to obtain a licence under FRAND declaration. It means injunction cannot be allowed against willing licensee.

Regarding damages, the IP High court held that seeking damages within a royalty under FRAND condition will not be deemed as an abuse of right unless special circumstances exist, whereas seeking damages that exceed a royalty under FRAND condition will be deemed as an abuse of right unless special circumstances exist. The later is to avoid hold up.

In January, February, and March of 2020, Sharp filed three patent infringement lawsuits against Tesla Motors Japan in the Tokyo District Court on the grounds of infringing of the Long Term Evolution (LTE) patents. It will be interesting to observe whether the impact of Daimler being defeated in the Mannheim District Court and the Munich District Court in Germany, an automobile kingdom, will be recreated in Japan, also an automobile kingdom. However, they quickly settled and there are no court judgments. Attention must be paid to the outcome of the lawsuit.

UMTS規格に準拠した製品を製造、販売する者が、特許権者がFRAND宣言を行ったこと、自己がFRAND条件によるライセンスを受ける意思を有する者であることの主張立証に成功した場合には、権利の濫用に当たり許されない。このことは、FRAND条件によるライセンスを受ける意思を有する者(willing licensee)に対する差止請求は許されないことを意味する。

Q4: In the Apple v Samsung decision the court set a FRAND royalty at 100,000 USD. Can you provide further details about which standard was negotiated, how many patents were found essential and what the price per patent was after all?

UMTS Standards was negotiated.
The royalty under FRAND condition for iPhone 4 and iPad 2 Wi-Fi+3G is approximately ¥9.96 million ($100,000). The IP High Court used below formula.

Amount of sales×●%×5%×1/529

  • percentage of UMTS standard’s contribution to the sales was ●%
  • cumulative royalty rate was 5%
  • number of SEPs indispensable for UMTS standard was 529

As the royalty was around $100,000 which is low amount, this judgment is deemed as on the implementor’s side.

FRAND宣言下におけるiPhone 4とiPad 2 Wi-Fi+3Gのロイヤルティは、約996万円とされた。知財高裁が用いた式は、以下の通りである。


  • UMTS規格に準拠していることの貢献部分の割合●%
  • 累積ロイヤリティの上限の割合5%
  • UMTS規格の必須特許の個数529


Q5: Japanese government agencies such as the JPO or the METI have published guidelines for SEP licensing negotiations and fair value calculations. The most known for example the JPO “Manual of Hantei”. Can you elaborate on these guideline and about what they say? Why, in your opinion, are these guidelines either neutral or pro standard implementers. Why is the pro SEP holder perspective missing?

Government agencies have published following reports.

  • “Manual of ‘Hantei’(advisory opinion) for an essentiality check” (March 2018,Japan Patent Office [JPO]) (manual, Hantei-E)
  • “Guide to Licensing Negotiations involving Standard Essential Patents”(June 5, 2018, JPO)(the guide)
  • “Guide to Fair Value Calculation of Standard Essential Patents for Multi-Component Products”(April 21, 2020, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry [METI]) (the basic concept)
  • “Intellectual Property Promotion Plan 2021”(July 13, 2021, Cabinet Office)(the plan)
  • “Interim Report” (July 26, 2021, METI) (the report).

The most known may not be JPO manual, Hantei-E, but JPO the guide.

The JPO publicised JPO, manual, Hantei-E for an essentiality check.

JPO the guide aims to enhance transparency and predictability, facilitate negotiations between rights holders and implementers, and help prevent or quickly resolve disputes concerning the licensing of standard essential patents (“SEPs”).

METI publicised the basic concept because risks involving SEP licensing negotiations and disputes have been increasing significantly.

Cabinet Office publicized the plan to show future IP strategies with seven key priorities.

METI publicized the report because of increasing importance of SEPs in recent years, the number of SEP declarations has been increasing.

Classifying these cases and reports as either pro-SEP holder, neutral, or pro-implementer, there are no cases or reports classified in pro-SEP holder category. The “manual, Hantei-E”, “the guide” and “the plan” may be classified as neutral, while the decision and judgment in Apple v. Samsung, “the basic concept” and “the report” may be classified as pro-implementer. The reason they are either neutral or pro-implementers and not pro-SEP holder may be because many Japanese industries are implementers.


  • 標準必須性に係る判断のための判定の利用の手引き」(平成30年3月、特許庁)(以下、「判定の手引き」という。)
  • 標準必須特許のライセンス交渉に関する手引き」(平成30年6月5日、特許庁)(以下、「手引き」という。)
  • マルチコンポーネント製品に係る標準必須特許のフェアバリューの算定に関する考え方」(令和2年4月21日、経済産業省)(以下、「考え方」という。)
  • 知的財産推進計画2021」(2021年7月13日、内閣の知的財産戦略本部)(以下、「計画」という。)
  • 中間整理報告書」(令和3年7月26日、経済産業省)(以下、「報告書」という。)








Q6: The government agencies reports overall identify 3 principles where however not all agencies agree to all three. Can you elaborate on the principles about 1) license to all, 2) top-down approach and 3) proportionality rule. Can you elaborate what these principles mean in practice?

  1. “license to all” Means an SEP holder must give a licence to all entities who wish to obtain a licence, regardless of their transaction stages in the supply chain.
  2. “top-down approach” determines the appropriate rate by calculating the ratio of contribution by all SEPs to the standard to avoid royalty stacking.
  3. “proportionality rule” means royalty should be calculated based on the portion the SEP technology contributes (contribution rate) in the value of the main product that implements the SEP technology.

These principles mean in practice that they are on the implementer’s side.

  1. 「license to all」は、標準必須特許権者は、サプライチェーンにおける取引段階にかかわらず、ライセンスの取得を希望する全ての者に対してライセンスしなければならないとする考え方である。
  2. 「トップダウンアプローチ」は、標準に係る全てのSEPの貢献の割合を算定して適切な料率を決定し、これによりロイヤルティ・スタッキングを防止する。
  3. 「比例のルール」は、SEPの技術を実施する主たる製品の価値のうち、当該SEPの技術が貢献している部分(寄与率)に基づいてロイヤルティを算定することである。

Q7: I guess all three principles are not favored by SEP holders? Can you summarize the arguments of the different Japanese governmental institutions and who is in favor of which principle and why?

The JPO, guide was on the neutral position introducing both arguments equally. However, METI, the basic concept introduced principles (1) and (2) as they stand on the implmentor’s side.


Q8: The former chief judge of the IP high court Mr. Shitara agreed only with principles 2) and 3) while he argued in favor of joining patent programs such as Avanci, which in his opinion, offer a fair and reasonable access to SEPs. However, when I look at the Avenci list of licensees not a single Japanese automotive OEM has yet joined the Avanci licensing program. Why do you think that is the case?

It may be because JAMA believes Avanci’s licence terms are not clear compared with traditional patents.


Q9: We do see an increasing number of SEP litigation in the auto industry and companies such as Honda or Toyota are also litigated outside of Japan. The market is international, and it seems as if the Japanese courts are seen more implementer friendly. Is that why we yet see little SEP litigation in Japan?

No. We do not know whether the Japanese courts are more implementer friendly. Apple v. Samsung judgment is rendered in 2014 when the western courts judgments are also on the implementer side. We have to see the future cases.

I believe the main reason there is little SEP litigation in Japan may be that the foreign companies still have the impression that Japan is an anti-patent jurisdiction where the patentee winning rate is low and patents will be easily invalidated. However, this is a misunderstanding as everything has reformed. The winning rate became higher and invalidation rate is now around 20%.


日本でSEP訴訟が少ないのは、日本は特許権者の勝率が低く、特許が簡単に無効化されてしまうアンチパテントの管轄であるという印象を外国企業がまだ持っていることが主な理由ではないかと思う。しかし、これは誤解であり、全てが改革されている。 勝訴率は高くなり、無効率は約20%になった。

Q10: Japan has set up a so called “SEP study group” that holds meetings and also invites SEP experts as guests. I myself have been invited once. Can you elaborate on who the members of the “SEP study group” are what the group’s influence is the SEP law in Japan?

Japan Business Federation (JBF), Japan Intellectual Property Association (JIPA), Japan Electronics and Information Technology Industries Association (JEITA), Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association, Inc. (JAMA) and the Japan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (JCCI) are the one who attended the meeting, and member companies of JEITA and JAMA observed the meetings (only in the case that member companies hope).

The study group discussed the measures preferable for Japan and intended to establish rules that could be considered by the courts.



Q11: 5G is a game changer as 5G will allow a much broader use cases of connectivity not only for the automotive industry but also for smart energy, smart factories, smart home or even smart healthcare. Yet Japan is lagging behind not being among the strong 5G patent holders. What do you foresee for Japanese industries future when it comes to 5G?

The question is about how do you think 5G will influence the Japanese industry with regards to the technology advancement 5G brings, but also with regards to the SEP licensing in new industries like automotive, smart factories or smart home devices, smart Energy and smart healthcare.

As the Cabinet Office’s plan stated, Japan is lagging behind in terms of 5G. Thus, Japan is aiming to have SEPs in beyond 5G era. Japan has excellent companies and technologies such as Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corporation (NTT) and the Innovative Optical and Wireless Network (IOWN) Global Forum.

内閣府の「計画」にもあるように、日本は5Gの面では遅れている。そこで、日本はBeyond5G時代にSEPを保有することを目指している。日本には、NTTやIOWN Global Forumなど、優れた企業や技術がある。

Q12: Finally, what do you hope the audience will leave today remembering? This should be an elevator pitch that is 30-60 seconds that provides a takeaway message.

While the JPO and the Cabinet Office are on the neutral position, METI seems to be on the implementer’s side and trying to influence future court judgments.

However, foreign SEP holders should not think Japan is a hostile jurisdiction to the SEP holders because of no SEP litigations recently, and we do not know how the current judges render the judgments. Also, Japan has reformed its patent litigation and now plaintiff patentee’s winning rate has increased and the invalidity rate is around 20%. Thus, Japan may be a good jurisdiction for SEP holders to file a lawsuit.


#14 Takanori Abe | The Japanese view on FRAND

“Foreign SEP holders should not think Japan is a hostile jurisdiction to the SEP holders because of no SEP litigations recently. We do not know how the current judges render the judgments. Japan has reformed its patent litigation and now plaintiff patentee’s winning rate has increased, and the invalidity rate is below 20%. Thus, Japan may be a good jurisdiction for SEP holders to file a lawsuit.”

Takanori is the founder of ABE & PARTNERS a law firm specialized in intellectual property and international business transaction. Takanori is a leading expert on any FRAND/SEP matters in Japan who understand the SEP situation in Japan like no other. He helps international companies to get a better understanding about how SEPs are treated in Japan, especially about recent court judgements and communications of various Japanese ministries.

Japan yet had only a few SEP cases so far: Apple v. Samsung with a judgment rendered in May 16, 2014 as well as Sharp v. Tesla January, February, and March of 2020. In the podcast Takanori explains and elaborates on the court outcome. In the Apple v. Samsung case e.g. it was decided that the royalty under FRAND condition for iPhone 4 and iPad 2 Wi-Fi+3G is approximately ¥9.96 million ($100,000).

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