The UK Intellectual Property Office, UKIPO, has launched a questionnaire1 designed for specific stakeholders in the Standard Essential Patents, SEPs, sector to help the UK Government assess whether intervention into the SEPs ecosystem is required.
The questionnaire, which is available until 23:59 hrs on 24 April 2023, follows a Call for Views held last year with the same broad aim; in turn, the questionnaire also supports the UK Innovation Strategy, a long-term plan for delivering innovation-led growth.
BACKGROUND - INSUFFICIENT EVIDENCE TO THE CALL FOR VIEWS FROM SMALLER SEPs STAKEHOLDERS
In introducing the questionnaire, the UKIPO commented:
“[W]e did not hear sufficient evidence [in response to the Call for Views] directly from UK SMEs, small-cap and mid-cap businesses, including their experiences of interacting or using technical standards when innovating.”
The overall evidence picture, on the other hand, appears complex, which may point to further engagement by the UKIPO with a broader range of SEPs stakeholders.
For example, the UKIPO further commented:
“We heard of lack of transparency in the licensing system, lack of transparency in pricing of SEPs, and uncertainty around whether a patent being licensed is essential to technical standards being relied upon. There were also respondents who said that threats of court-imposed injunctions and the potential for litigation impacted on businesses’ approach to licensing of SEPs.”
KEY SEPs ISSUES FOR SMEs, SMALL-CAP AND MID-CAP BUSINESSES
The UKIPO is keen to hear from those involved with the development or production of interoperable products or services that use technical standards, on issues that include:
- Do you have sufficient information on how your innovation relates to SEPs?
- Is the current system fair for everyone involved in the licensing and implementing of SEPs, or is change needed?
- If you use a licence, were you offered it on fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory (FRAND) terms?
- Do you have enough information on the pricing of SEPs that you licence or may licence in future?
- What your experience has been in respect of licensing disagreements and how were they resolved?
In designing a SEPs questionnaire for the needs of SMEs, small-cap and mid-cap businesses, the UKIPO has taken a positive step towards ensuring that any UK Government intervention into the SEPs ecosystem is fair and balanced. We therefore encourage engagement with the questionnaire by these types of business.
To find out more about SEPs and how intellectual property can help you create commercial value from your innovations, feel free to contact any of our electronics and computing team.
- With detailed guidance available here.