Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) and Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) were among the companies that met with international regulators on Wednesday to discuss the issues around standards-essential patent licensing, but couldn’t reach any conclusion. The meeting was organized in Geneva, Switzerland, by the International Telecommunications Union, a United Nations agency, and featured representatives from companies, regulators, and academics.
“Today’s event has gone a long way to help clarify the positions of various stakeholders in determining the effectiveness of FRAND commitments and the impact of litigations surrounding standards-essential patents,” ITU Telecommunication Standardization Bureau chief Malcolm Johnson said, according to ZDNet. Johnson, who said it was a “heated debate,” added that a second meeting will be held on Thursday. “Any attempt at providing market players with clear, transparent, effective and up-to-date patent policies and guidelines … would work to the benefit of the industry as a whole,” Johnson said.
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“The ITU will not interfere with bilateral negotiations. However, taking into account the concerns voiced by some participants today regarding the effectiveness of current FRAND commitments and impact on standards-essential patents … I believe clarification in this regard could be a significant contribution from the ITU in addressing the current difficulties.”
Several patents are branded FRAND, or fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory, if companies agree that they have intellectual property that is essential to certain standards, such as 3G. Companies holding such patents are expected to license them at a reasonable price, even to rivals. However, with the mobile and tablet rivalries holding high stakes, some companies have tried to use the patents as a battle strategy.
Florian Mueller of FOSS Patents said the discussions made it clear that the industry was “deeply divided” over the standard-essential patents issue. The main two points of the debate were related to injunctive relief over standard-essential patents and the appropriate royalty base.
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