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SCIENCE SUPERPOWER

Blueprint for Success: Empowering businesses in the UK through access to Standard Essential Patents

Summary report of an Onward and the Fair Standards Alliance roundtable.
Anna Dickinson
January 9, 2024
Blueprint for Success: Empowering businesses in the UK through access to Standard Essential Patents

In today's interconnected world, Standard Essential Patents are the building blocks of progress. This important discussion explored the challenges faced by many UK companies who seek to innovate on top of base technologies like 5G - challenges we must overcome if the UK is to unleash its innovation potential.

This is a summary report from a roundtable held in partnership with the Fair Standards Alliance.

Standard Essential Patents (SEPs) are the lifeblood of the innovation ecosystem. They are critical to accessing the standardised technologies that ensure devices and systems can seamlessly communicate and work together. Standardisation provides a platform for inventions and innovations to be built on top of base technologies. As such, SEPs and their owners can act as gatekeepers to who can innovate and succeed in the market.

Whether it is the Internet of Things, smart energy, driverless cars, or virtual reality, Britain’s vitality as a world-leading tech hub will depend in large part on ensuring its SEPs rules are right. Get those rules wrong and the UK risks failing to achieve its science superpower ambitions, by stifling competition, and spurring inventors to go elsewhere.

The report provides insight into the discussion hosted in July 2023. This centred around identifying key areas of concern with the current UK SEP licensing environment and possible policy solutions.

Key points of the discussion

1. Litigation and injunctions
2. Abuse of licensing power
3. Transparency
4. Impact on growth
5. Possible solutions

The roundtable brought together industry experts and practitioners from various sectors, together looking at the role of SEPs in the UK’s science and technology landscape, the challenges faced, and potential solutions.

Ief Daems, Chair of the FSA:

A balanced patent system is essential to a prosperous economy driven by science and technology. And we must prevent anti-competitive practices that hinder innovation, investment and consumer welfare.  Standard essential patents (SEPs) sit at the intersection of these policy imperatives. But their owners are too often failing to comply with their obligations to license on FRAND terms. As the UK government works to develop a coherent and fair policy on SEPs, this report will serve as a valuable reference point as to the issues faced and possible solutions.”

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