This Technical University of Berlin Lecture was addressed to IP Management students and explains the world of standard essential patents as to the following agenda:

  • What is a standard essential patent?
  • A company’s SEP prosecution and filing practices
  • Important connectivity standards and Trends on Standards subject to SEPs
  • SEP Licensing and Patent Pools
  • Famous industry anecdotes from the world of SEPs
  • The future of SEPs and what you need to know now!

Lecture Introduction

Technology standards (e.g. 4G/5G, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, RFID, NFC, NB-IoT, HEVC, VVC, Qi standard and many more) are fundamental for communication between connected devices. Standards specify a common language so that different technologies or technology components can communicate and interact with each other. As technology becomes more complex SEPs (Standard Essential Patents) will increasingly be integrated into new systems that enable communication between different technologies. Patents are intended to provide incentives for investment in research and development. Standards serve as a common platform so that technological innovations can function together. Patenting and standardization thus promote innovation jointly, but in very different ways. Standardized technologies are to be adapted worldwide so that innovative solutions work together on a common standardized platform. Patents, on the other hand, grant the holder of the intellectual property right a temporary monopoly on a technology in order to exclude third parties from its use. While standards aim at broad application, patents prevent the use of the technology by anyone but the patent owner. Standardization organizations and antitrust authorities have solved the problem as follows: In the view of antitrust law, the licensing of a patent where the claims are essential to a standard is considered to be its own isolated market. Since a patented standardized technology cannot be used without infringement of the patent, the patent holder holds a monopoly position for this technology. If a company participates in the standards development of a technology, it must commit to license these patents. To prevent the patent holder from demanding monopoly prices, however, licensing is subject to so-called FRAND (Fair, Reasonable and Nondiscriminatory) conditions.

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