Government mulls reforms to essential patent regime

Mental property holders could possibly be required to make public the licensing phrases of patents considered essential to the operation of trade requirements below reforms being thought-about by the Mental Property Workplace. The suggestion seems in a call for views on the operation of ‘standard-essential patents’ (SEPs). The session doc additionally seeks views on methods of protecting disputes about SEPs out of courtroom. 

As a situation of designation, holders of SEPs are already required to license the IP on honest, affordable and non-discriminatory (FRAND) phrases to companies wishing to function in the identical market. The variety of such patents is rising quickly, particularly in IT: some 95,000 patents have been declared essential to the 5G cell phone commonplace alone.

With out entry to these patents, it’s tough or inconceivable for a enterprise to provide standard-compliant merchandise – an necessary competitors problem. Disputes surrounding SEPs additionally make up a rising proportion of IP litigation. The session follows final yr’s landmark judgment in Unwired Planet v Huaweiduring which the Supreme Courtroom dominated that the England and Wales courts have jurisdiction to set world FRAND phrases. 

The Mental Property Workplace mentioned its name for views will collect proof on matters together with:    

  • The hyperlink between SEPs, innovation and competitors and the way these parts interrelate. It asks: ‘What actions or interventions would make the best enhancements for customers within the UK?’
  • The functioning of the market, and whether or not there’s an imbalance between the licensor and licensee.  Such imbalances have raised issues about companies being pressured to license a wider portfolio of patents than they want for his or her product. 
  • Transparency within the SEP ecosystem. Views are sought on whether or not ‘some form of price transparency’ could be acceptable for supporting licensees in FRAND negotiations. 
  • SEP litigation. The doc notes that Civil Process Guidelines set pre-action protocols and asks whether or not different technique of resolving disputes ought to be explored additional. 

The IPO’s chief government, Tim Moss, mentioned: ‘The decision for views will allow us to hear a broad vary of views across the challenges confronted by trade. It will assist us higher perceive how our IP framework helps the SEPs ecosystem, whereas guaranteeing a good steadiness is achieved between all entities concerned, and the utmost profit to UK innovation.’

The decision for views will run for 12 weeks, closing on 1 March. Responses will inform the federal government’s choice on any subsequent steps, the IPO mentioned. 

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