10 / 01 / 2018

EARTO’s Views on EC Communication on Standard Essential Patents

Following the recent European Commission’s (EC) Communication on “Setting out an EU Approach for Standard Essential Patents (SEPs)”, EARTO experts would like to thank the European Commission for the extensive work done on this and for the balanced approach taken on this sensitive subject, key for our European competitiveness.   In the context of this Communication, EARTO had provided inputs to the debate, to voice its key concerns on a potential unbalanced approach on this topic which would discriminate against IP holders and disrupt the EU R&I ecosystem. Indeed, the 350 Research and Technology Organisations (RTOs) members of EARTO play an important role in the innovation ecosystem, covering all scientific fields, from basic research to new products and services development in close cooperation with industries, large and small, as well as a wide array of public actors. RTOs hold a high number of patents and are very active in Standard Setting Organisations, as they consider technical standards of paramount importance to the European innovation ecosystem.   However, following the publication of this EC Communication, EARTO members wish to point out areas that will need clarifications in future EU work to avoid giving room for misinterpretations that could be detrimental to our European Research & Innovation (R&I) ecosystem. EARTO’s short paper  aims at highlighting the issues that will need to be treated with care in the future:
  1. Risks linked to ‘smallest marketable component’ or ‘license to all’ approach
  2. Risks of complexity of the standardisation process slowing the production of standards
  3. Risks linked to an imbalanced approach to Open Source Software (OSS) for standardisation
Finally, EARTO stresses that in future work, the European Commission should consider the recent shift of US Federal Competition Policy towards Standard Setting Organisations in favour of IP holders.   EARTO and its Legal Experts remain ready to provide additional input on this topic and are available for further discussion with EU institutions to ensure a sustainable European regulatory framework for IPRs, SEPs and essential copyrights, which is crucial for technology transfer in the R&I Ecosystem and key to boost innovation-led growth in Europe.  
EARTO’s Views on EC Communication on Standard Essential Patents