The European Commission is intervening in the technical patent dispute between car manufacturers

20. 11. 2020 Friday / By: Robert Denes / Industrial / Exact time: BST / Print this page

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The European Commission plans to get involved in the patent dispute between technology companies and car manufacturers and could set up a system to check whether certain patents are essential to the required technology standards, a Commission document says.

As a first step, the Commission will contact the automotive industry to explore the possibility of effective licensing solutions. However, experts say essential controls can be difficult to implement in the global market. Finnish carmaker Nokia and German carmaker Daimler have been litigating with each other for nearly two years in the courts and through antitrust complaints. Nokia claims that Daimler uses Nokia's patents without permission and refuses to negotiate a license, while Daimler claims that Nokia is abusing its patent position and refuses to grant patents for car FRAND (fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory). ). manufacturer suppliers.

The EU executive is taking the battle between German telecommunications manufacturer Nokia and Daimler, a Finnish telecommunications equipment manufacturer, over the level of royalties for key navigation and communication technologies in German courts and who should pay them.

The proposals are outlined in a Commission action plan on intellectual property reviewed by Reuters, which will be presented on 24 November by European Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager and EU Digital Leader Thierry Breton.

As a first step, the Commission will contact the automotive industry to explore the possibility of effective licensing solutions, the document said, adding that the industry's needs are most urgent.

While the automotive industry currently faces the most problems between standard basic patent (SEP) holders and licensees, the issue is also important in the digital and electronics sectors, as well as in Internet-connected devices, in energy, healthcare and smart manufacturing.

To this day, the Commission has refrained from discussions and urged companies to resolve the issue themselves, some see it as a contractual issue. However, car manufacturers see it as an antitrust issue, with Daimler complaining to Vestager.

Patents are a lucrative source of revenue for Nokia, generating € 1.4 billion ($ 1.7 billion) in license revenue annually. He claims that Daimler used its basic cell patents (SEPs) without permission.

However, Daimler wants Nokia to license its suppliers rather than the company itself, which could reduce the level of fees.

In order to further clarify the regulatory framework for the notification, authorization and enforcement of SEPs, the Commission is considering regulatory reforms, such as the establishment of critical controls by independent third parties, the document states.

Such a screening would examine whether certain patents are essential to the standard, as claimed by patent holders, and also contradicts fears that some royalties are calculated at too high a level due to the granting of redundant patents.

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