Finding An Efficiency-Oriented Approach to Scrutinise the Essentiality of Potential SEPs: A Survey


Over the last two decades, standard essential patents (SEPs) have been at the centre of a lively debate among scholars, courts and competition authorities, mainly on the competitive implications of the successful adoption of a standard. Indeed, standards are key to ensuring interoperability and technical compatibility across a broad range of modern industries, but at the same time, they come with exclusionary effects for companies precluded from practicing the standard. For these reasons, standards development organisations (SDOs) typically adopt disclosure and licensing rules, requiring firms taking part in a standardisation initiative to disclose the existence of any intellectual property right (IPR) that might cover a technology considered to be implemented into the standard and clarify whether they would be willing to offer a licence to such IPR on fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory (FRAND) terms if the technology is implemented into the standard.

Much of the attention has so far been devoted to the economic and legal meanings of FRAND commitments as a mechanism to avoid hold-up and reverse hold-up problems between licensors and licensees, thus preventing SEPs holders from demanding excessively high royalties when implementers are locked-in to a standard and licensees from engaging in strategic practices to escape the payment of royalties or depress prices, respectively. However, SDOs’ disclosure rules also deserve similar consideration.