The UK Intellectual Property Office (IPO) has published an open consultation Standard Essential Patents and Innovation: Call for views in order to better understand the current legislative and policy framework’s function to support innovation in the context of SEPs. Views are sought on whether the framework is functioning efficiently and strikes the right balance for all entities involved. Its stated aim is “to produce the optimal IP framework for the UK that will promote innovation and creativity both now and, in the future” whilst ensuring the Government’s ambitions set out in the ‘UK Innovation Strategy: leading the future by creating it‘ are supported.

The consultation document can be located here, along with the response form. The call for views is now open and will close on 1 March 2022.

The consultation document notes that the UK starts from a position of strength, ranked 4th in the WIPO Global Innovation Index 2021 and 2nd in the US Chamber of Commerce Global Innovation Policy Centre International IP Index 2021, and that the UK’s IP system is consistently highly regarded around the world – but recognises that it needs to keep pace with the development of new technologies in a national and international context. It states that the rise of the use of wireless technology in the telecoms and automotive industries in particular means that the issues around the licensing  of patents as part of standardised technology is receiving increased attention. The document also cites data suggesting that SEP litigation has increased significantly since the mid-2000s.

The call for views poses 25 individual questions on issues such as:

  • The relationship between SEPs, innovation and competition
  • Competition and market functioning
  • Transparency in the system
  • Patent infringement and remedies
  • Licensing of SEPs
  • SEP litigation

The consultation raises lack of transparency as an issue with the current system, both in terms of which patents are essential to a standard and in relation to royalty rates. The possibility of an ‘essentiality check service’ is raised as one potential solution, as well as ‘some form of pricing transparency’ – though no detail is given as to what form this may take.

It is interesting to note that another proposal mooted is the greater use of alternative dispute resolution, including arbitration and mediation. The consultation asks about industry led solutions, as well as the possibility of the government providing alternative means for resolving FRAND disputes.

The UKIPO conducted a similar “call for views” in relation to IP rights and AI, prior to launching a full scale consultation which is still in progress (see here). These “call for views” are seen by the UKIPO as essential to establish the issues for business and other interested parties that need to be more formally consulted on. Thus any businesses involved with SEPs should consider responding to the call for views in order to highlight key areas for any future full scale consultation.

Contacts and authors

Andrew Moir
Andrew Moir
Partner, Intellectual Property and Global Head of Cyber & Data Security
+44 20 7466 2773
David Webb
David Webb
Associate, London
+44 20 7466 2629
Rachel Montagnon
Rachel Montagnon
Professional Support Consultant, London
+44 20 7466 2217