A group of organisations wrote to the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers regarding the Board of Governor’s December 2020 direction to the IEEESA’s Standards Board to undertake a focused review of the IEEE-SA patent policy, and the associated consultation issued by IEEE-SA to stakeholders that was completed in October 2021. The IEEE-SA’s Patent Policy is and remains the model for standard setting organization (SSO) IPR policies, particularly following the 2015 update to the patent policy. The 2015 updates clarified issues that have been the source of time-consuming and expensive disputes at other SSOs. By enacting the updates, IEEE-SA distinguished itself positively. By almost any measure, standardization work at IEEE has thrived in the wake of these updates.
It is critical to the IEEE, to industry, to consumers, and in the larger public interest that the IEEE-SA maintain its Patent Policy in its current form. The IEEE should not permit itself to be pressured into unwelcome and unproductive changes championed only by a very small but highly vocal sub-set of participants in standards development at IEEESA.
Many of our companies previously wrote in support of the IEEE Patent Policy in their February 9, 2021 Joint Stakeholder letter, signed by more than 40 companies. And many of our companies submitted comments in October 2021 in response to the Standard’s Board’s request for comments on the Patent Policy. We have been strong friends and supporters of the IEEE mission. We have contributed extensively to IEEE standards and the decisions we have made to implement those standards have contributed to their success and IEEE-SA’s global reputation.
An objective review of the comments submitted to the Standards Board makes evident that stakeholder support for the IEEE’s current Patent Policy is overwhelming, including support from some of the largest patentholders for IEEE standards. There were approximately five times as many organizations that expressed support for the policy than against. The companies that expressed support for the 2015 Patent Policy update constitute a significant representation of mainstream stakeholders, large and small, who power the digital economy and create and deliver innovative products and services in many areas of the economy. The organizations that lent their names and signatures to supporting the IEEE Patent Policy belong to a wide range of sectors, such as Information and Communications Technology (ICT), consumer electronics, manufacturing, smart energy, chip manufacturers, connected health, automotive, software developers, systems integrators, network operators, audio-visual and even the craft beverage industry.
The organizations that support maintaining the current patent policy include prolific contributors to IEEE standards development activities and holders of patented technologies, including patents that are essential to IEEE standards. These organizations find IEEE to be an attractive place to engage in standardization because of the clarity that the IEEE 2015 patent policy update provides. Among the respondents supporting the current policy are some of the largest and most innovative patent holders in the world, all of whom care that IEEE maintain the current balanced approach to its Patent Policy respecting the rights of both standards essential patent claim holders and users of IEEE standards.