With the government inviting views on new intellectual property rights through a discussion paper, industry veterans have urged the officials to keep the issue of standard essential patents out of the purview of the current consultation, since it is already covered under the Patents Act, and the patent owners and licensing companies should negotiate between them.
“The existing patent legislation and antitrust precedents are adequate to address the issues related to Standard Essential Patents (SEPs) and in ensuring their availability for implementers of the standards on Fair Reasonable and Non-Discriminatory (FRAND) terms. Thus, there is no rationale for adopting additional legislation or amendments to the existing laws,” TV Ramachandran, chairman, telecom committee, European Business Group, wrote in a letter to Ramesh Abhishek, secretary at Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion.
Standard Essential Patents are basic technologies that are crucial in building a product or service. For example, when a domestic handset company such as Micromax Informatics wants to launch a new phone, it has to pay for SEPs for using technologies owned by companies such as Ericsson. To use these SEPs, companies enter into agreements based on Free, Reasonable Non-Discriminatory, or FRAND terms.
In this context, the European Business Group said the government’s move for a policy to specifically regulate standards-setting organisations and licensing of SEPs are “both unnecessary and unwise, as it would threaten to disrupt the FRAND licensing balance”.
In a related but separate communique to DIPP secretary, Ramachandran, who is also the president of Broadband Industry Forum, reiterated that there was no need for the government to review the policy on SEPs and FRAND terms.
“We are required to strengthen our existing IPR policies and patent laws rather than take up unwarranted consultation of settled aspects and consider dilution of existing policies,” he wrote.
“Adoption of any other type of SEP policy which could result in dilution of IPR value disproportionately and lead to serious jeopardy of R&D investment in India even by interested and supportive local OEMs, should be discouraged and disallowed.”