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Interoperability in the Digital Age – Licensing of Standard Essential Patents

Interoperability via standardization is a key prerequisite for industrial production and innovation and with Internet of Things and Industry 4.0 interoperability will be even more important in the future. Standard essential patents (SEPs), i.e. patents with claims that cover essential parts of industry standards are one crucial element of interoperability. The role of SEPs has been recognized by policy makers (e.g. in the European Commission 2017 communication ́Setting out the EU approach to SEPs ́) and courts alike (e.g. in ECJ 2017 decision Huawei vs ZTE) and will be considered in futures policy actions (e.g. the upcoming European Commission Intellectual Property Action Plan 2020). One focus of policy action with standard essential patents is on transparency both, in terms of data provided (access to the relevant technical information) and correctness of data (approval of essentiality). Germany being the EU country where most patents are filed with the European Patent Office is home to some of the leading industrial actors with SEPs. Germany is also the jurisdiction where many of the leading court decisions on SEPs licensing are decided at EU level (e.g. the recent SEPs cases between Nokia and Daimler).

The objective of this event is to discuss some of the most important and recent SEPs related policy issues with policy makers, practitioners and judges. The panel discussions will look at recent policy trends in Europe, at upcoming institutional challenges, such as the feasibility of essentiality tests and it will consider new trends with licensing practices. Issues are discussed in a European setting but obviously have a global dimension and are considered here with a specific view from principle German actors also in the context of the German Presidency of the Council of the European Union.