PRESS RELEASE: Fair Standards Alliance welcomes Vestager’s comments on patent licensing

European competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager gives a press conference at European Commission headquarters in Brussels on November 20, 2014. AFP PHOTO/Emmanuel Dunand        (Photo credit should read EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP/Getty Images)

BRUSSELS, 5 February 2016 – The Fair Standards Alliance (FSA) welcomes European Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager’s statement that companies that have committed to license their standards-essential patents (SEPs) on fair, reasonable and non- discriminatory (FRAND) terms must be kept to that promise.

“We are delighted to see the Commissioner giving such a clear message that companies simply must license patents on the FRAND terms that they have committed to. This is very much in line with our view that something must be done about unfair and unreasonable SEP licensing practices,” FSA chairman Robert Pocknell said.

In a speech to the College of Europe’s Global Competition Law Centre on 1 February, the Commissioner also said guidelines can “be a more efficient way than cases to provide guidance and legal certainty”, adding that formulating appropriate guidelines is much easier on the basis of the resolution of cases, and noting that the Commission’s decisions in Motorola and Samsung as well as the European Court of Justice decision in the Huawei case have removed a lot of uncertainty. The FSA’s Pocknell said the Alliance would be pleased to constructively support further efforts to establish fair licensing conditions for SEPs, and will continue offering perspectives and recommendations on these matters.

The Europe-based association believes that unfair and unreasonable SEP licensing practices pose a significant risk to the innovation eco-system. The failure to abide by the FRAND commitment, existing in most standardisation licensing, creates barriers to entry for new market entrants, threatens to stifle the full potential for economic growth across major industry sectors, and ultimately harms consumer choice.

FSA’s member companies, who hold more than 160,000 patents and spend more than 32 billion euros per year on R&D and innovation, include: BMW, Cisco, Dell, Fairphone, HP, Intel, ip.acess, Juniper Networks, Lenovo, Micromax, peiker acustic, Sierra Wireless, Telit, u- blox and Volkswagen.

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