Automakers complain of patent disputes delaying automotive industryDecember 23, 2019
A number of manufacturers of plug-in cars wrote a letter to the European Commission complaining about the delay in the development of industry due to patent disputes.
It is worthwhile at the beginning of the article to talk about the different types of patents that are issued in the European Union – SEP and FRAND. SEPs are standard core patents that can be considered as a fundamental document of ownership by a particular person or organization, but, according to industry representatives, should be licensed to everyone on a “fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory” (FRAND) basis.
We mention this because of a letter that 27 companies sent to the European Commission this week regarding the restrictions that some patent holders place on their SEPs and how these restrictions affect plug-in and autonomous vehicles. The letter refers to, among other things, smart grids, smart homes and smart meters. When it comes to connected vehicles, the Fair Standards Alliance (which supports SEP processing in FRAND) says that SEPs are “essential for creating next-generation wireless products,” and when patent holders do not follow FRAND policies, they are increasingly undermining “the competitiveness of these important highly innovative industries and already detrimental to technological innovation in Europe. ”
The letter itself calls for a business environment in which patent holders are fairly paid for their intellectual property in a “competitive and vibrant European market.” Instead, when some SEP owners issue licenses only to certain companies, and not to anyone in the supply chain who can pay, this makes it impossible for the company to plan its investments in research and development, as well as in production.
“This practice holds back innovation, prevents entry into new markets and connects suppliers with regular customers,” the letter said.
Ford, Daimler and BMW / Mini signed this letter with automotive components suppliers Continental and Denso, as well as Apple. The letter itself did not mention who “some SEP owners were”, but Daimler told Car and Driver which company was causing the problems: Nokia.
“Currently, some patent holders refuse to license their standard core patents on reasonable and non-discriminatory terms. One example is Nokia, which so far has refused to comprehensively and directly license our suppliers for core patents for telecommunication standards. In general, a condition must be achieved that ensures the competitiveness of innovative European industries, as well as appropriate compensation to patent owners for what they invented, ”the Daimler said in a statement.
Earlier this month, Reuters reported that Daimler and Nokia agreed to mediate their dispute over technology license fees for patents, which include navigation systems, autonomous vehicles, and inter-vehicle communications.
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