UK patent office calls for views on essential patents

December 16, 2021 // By Nick Flaherty
UK patent office calls for views on essential patents
The UK government is seeking views as to whether the Standard Essential Patents (SEPs) framework is functioning efficiently and strikes the right balance of protection and innovation.

The UK Intellectual Property Office (IPO) is calling for evidence-based views on the the Standard Essential Patents (SEPs) framework in a review that will run for 12 weeks. It is open from 7 December 2021 and will close on 1 March 2022.

This follows a similar review by the US patent office earlier in the year.

A patent that protects technology which is essential to implementing a standard is known as a standard essential patent (SEP). Without using the methods or devices protected by these SEPs, it is difficult for a manufacturer to create standard-compliant products. The number of declared SEPs doubled on average every five years between the early 1990s to 2014. As of 2020, around 95,000 patents had been declared essential for the 5G standard, RISC-V and the growing Internet of Things (IoT) sector.

Once a patent is declared as essential to the standard, the owners can provide a license to implementers of the SEP on fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory (FRAND) terms. This ensures the technical standards can be readily used by implementers of the standard.

This has been an issue in areas such as standards for video compression and could b an issue with the promotion of Open RAN for wireless networks

The UK IPO is looking at issues such as the actions or interventions that would make the greatest improvements for consumers in the UK, as well as whether there are practices with SEPs that create difficulties for industry or act as barriers to innovators.

“[IP] helps innovators reap the rewards of their investments, promoting investment in research and innovation. IP is vital to the UK economy: Between 2017 and 2018, investment in intangible assets grew by 3.3% to an


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