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16 October 2012 0 Comments
Posted in Opinion, Technology & media

Patent war talks

Author headshot image Posted by , Partner

Apple, Google, Microsoft, Samsung and other leading tech firms, patent officers, regulators and academics met in Switzerland last week to discuss whether action is needed to prevent patent disputes in the industry which people fear will stifle future innovation.

The meeting has been set up by the International Telecommunication Union which is the United Nations specialised agency for information and communication technologies.

Some will say the meeting could not have taken place a better time with the recent high volume of patent litigation in the industry and the EU looking into whether Samsung and Motorola have abused their patents to distort competition.

Talks will focus on FRAND patent licence rights and ensuring that these are offered on “reasonable” terms. FRAND stands for fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory patents- essentially these are the innovations that are patented and recognised as being critical to an industry for example technology without which it would be impossible to connect to a 3G network. Licence holders of FRAND patents must allow third parties to use them and must not charge an excessive licence fee.

Problems arise where parties fail to agree “reasonable” terms and products are developed and made available with FRAND patents but without payment of the licence fees. Licence holders in these situations turn to litigation and imposing bans on the products in question.

The discussions will not stop with this week’s meeting and it is reported that the group will continue to have a number of informal meetings over the next 12 months. It would of course be in the best interests of the industry and development of technology for a general consensus to be reached on the issue however the likelihood of this is questionable considering the ongoing patent wars.

If you have any queries in relation to this blog please contact John North, Head of Corporate and Commercial on 020 7583 2222 or or Sonia Mohammed


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