As part of its Single Market Strategy, the Commission has announced that it will take steps to modernise the EU’s policy on standardisation. In particular, the Commission will launch a Joint Initiative on Standardisation to modernise, prioritise and speed up the delivery of standards by 2019. This initiative is intended to bring together European and national standardisation organisations, industry, SMEs, consumer associations, trade unions, environmental organisations, Member States and the Commission.
The Commission has also emphasised the services and ICT sector as priorities for future standard-setting. The former bolsters its digital single market initiative by facilitating cross-border services (see our previous posts here, here, here, here…). The latter follows on from its recent communication on its ICT standardisation priorities (see our post here).
In relation to standard essential patents, the Commission intends to “provide guidance to ensure that the licensing frameworks… continue to bring benefits to innovation and implementation of new technologies such as 5G or the Internet of Things” (see the Commission's Factsheet). The Commission doesn’t provide any detail as to the direction of its guidance other than to repeat the well-worn rhetoric of aiming to incentivise R&D investment, whilst promoting access to technology and interoperability. Interestingly, the Commission does note that royalty-free licensing agreements for SEPs are a type of FRAND agreement, rather than an alternative. Such agreements are unsurprisingly welcomed by the Commission.
The Commission’s initiatives promise great things but it remains to be seen what will materialise...