|Geneva, Switzerland, 10 October 2012
Question & Answers
- Why is ITU calling this meeting and why now?
ITU is calling the meeting in light of recent patent disputes that have caused shipments of goods to be impounded in customs and the recent worldwide increase in litigation involving Standard Essential Patents (or “SEPs” – see question 3).
- What is the goal of the meeting?
ITU, as a standards body, must strike a balance between the needs of the different stakeholders in the standardization process, including patent holders, implementers and end-users. This balancing act is achieved through ITU’s patent policy which is constantly being reviewed to adapt to the changing needs of the ICT industry. The purpose of this meeting is to discuss the effectiveness of RAND-based patent policies and whether these policies adequately respond, in the light of the current increase in patent litigation, to the needs of the various stakeholders. The goal is primarily to provide a neutral venue for industry, Standards Development Organizations (“SDOs”), government and academia to exchange ideas that will guide future discussions on whether current patent policies are adequate or sufficient.
- What is a “Standard Essential Patent”?
A Standard Essential Patent (“SEP”) is a patent that is essential to the implementation of a standard.
- What does ITU hope to achieve?
- Open a dialogue with all stakeholders on a global issue affecting the industry worldwide.
- Assess the effectiveness of current RAND-based patent policies.
- Find out how standard essential patents can be enforced without hindering competition.
- Is this mission impossible?
No. The impact of standard essential patents on competition is a complex and sensitive issue. However, we feel we have the support of the industry and the fact that major stakeholders from around the world have agreed to join us on 10 October to discuss the issue and find possible solutions to this global problem is extremely positive.
- What qualifies the ITU to convene such a meeting?
ITU’s mission is to produce high-quality, demand-driven international standards with the principles of global connectivity, openness, affordability, interoperability and security. The current increase in SEP litigation could have an impact on ITU’s ability to fulfill this mission, and to create an enabling environment where users can access affordable telecommunication services worldwide. Furthermore, the ITU—as the leading United Nations agency for information and communication technology issues, as the world’s preeminent global standard-making body, and with its membership of 193 Member States, more than 700 Sector Members including both private sector organizations and academic institutions—is uniquely qualified to take a leadership role in this matter by providing a global platform where the various stakeholders can come together to discuss such an important issue affecting the ICT industry worldwide.
- Does this initiative have the support of the industry?
Yes – see quotes in the press release.
- Who will be attending the meeting?
Regulators, patent offices, industry players, SDOs, academia and industry associations.
- Does the ITU expect the round table to have an impact on the standardization process?
We hope that this initiative, which emphasizes the importance of face-to-face dialogue, will ease the tensions between the patent and standardization systems.
- What is ITU’s position on the inclusion of patents in standards?
Patents may be incorporated into ITU standards, provided patent holders commit to licensing their technology under RAND terms.