Friday 20 November 2015

FRAND for all

We've been interested to see the start of a new group called the fair standards alliance which was launched this week. Based out of Brussels, the group has members from a number of industries and sets out four key principles:

  1. A license for a SEP should be available at any point in the value chain where the standard is implemented, and the important terms of those licenses should be transparent to other companies implementing the same standards;
  2. A FRAND royalty should reflect the value of the invention. In most cases that means that it should be based on the smallest device that implements those patents, and additionally it should take into account the overall royalty that could be reasonably charged for all patents that are essential to that standard;
  3. Injunctions and similar legal threats should be a last resort;
  4. A FRAND commitment made in respect of a SEP should not fall away simply because the SEP is sold to another company.
The groups membership includes firms as diverse as car makers BMW and Volkswagen together with ICT companies such as Cisco, Dell, and Intel to name just a few.

Their stated role is to promote fair, balanced and rational practices in the licensing of patents which are essential to standards and they set out their position in a detailed position paper available here.

Given the controversial nature of patents in the standard-setting process the group's role could be invaluable in providing an industry-wide view of the standard setting process from companies that are both innovators and product designers  who want to see a return on their investment but also appreciate the need for an approach that encourages the development of standards.

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