07 December 2021

UK Government launches a call for views on standard essential patents and innovation

The UK Government announced the start of a call for views on standard essential patents (SEPs) on 7 December 2021.

In brief, the consultation is designed to seek opinions on the issues SEPs raise in relation to market functionality and the balance the current system strikes for industry and innovators, as well as SEP rights holders. The responses will help the UK Government assess whether intervention is required to optimise the UK intellectual property (IP) framework with the aim to promote innovation and competition.

Why is this consultation happening?

A rise in the use of wireless technologies (3G, 4G and 5G), coupled with increasing globalisation of commerce and a need for interoperability, has resulted in the increasing importance of technical standards. This call for views on SEPs forms part of the UK Innovation Strategy published in July earlier this year which sets out the Government’s long-term plan for delivering innovation-led growth.

The consultation also comes in response to the Government’s Telecoms Diversification Strategy where SEPs were identified by the Diversification Taskforce as a potential barrier to diversification of the telecoms landscape. This call for views therefore aims to establish whether government intervention is required and seeks evidence to better understand what the intervention could look like to improve market functioning and promote innovation within the SEP system.

What will the consultation focus on?

The call for views focuses on four specific areas:

  1. The relationship between SEPs, innovation and competition – in particular, how the SEP ecosystem can support competition and innovation and benefit UK consumers.
  2. The functioning of the market and competition, including whether the current SEP system creates barriers to innovators.
  3. The amount of transparency surrounding the SEPs system, including in pricing negotiations.
  4. The functioning of the patent system and SEP licensing framework, and role of the courts in SEP licensing disputes.

Responding to the consultation

The call for views will run for 12 weeks – opening from 7 December 2021 and closing at 11:45pm on 1 March 2022.

Respondents must submit a completed response form available online to [email protected]. The form sets out 27 questions further breaking down the four key areas described above.

What happens after 1 March 2022?

After the deadline, the UK Government will consider the responses and we can expect the publication of a formal report summary in due course. The call for views states that the information obtained will inform government’s decision on any potential intervention that is required within the SEP ecosystem.

We are pleased to see the attention the UK Government is dedicating to promoting innovation and creativity within the UK using IP frameworks. If any clients or contacts have views on any of the questions the consultation seeks answers on, we would be happy to hear their thoughts.