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WIPO Builds a FRAND Arbitration Business (but will they come?)

The Standards Blog - Andy Updegrove - Ever since Apple set off the mobile platform wars by suing Samsung for what Steve Jobs believed were egregious borrowings of patented Apple smartphone innovations, the courts have been busy processing the disputes.  One of the most effective weapons the combatants made use of has been the so-called “standards essential patent” (SEP). And the armament of SEPS is very large, because each mobile device which implements many hundreds of standards. For example, if a company owns a SEP necessary to include a camera, wireless function or other key feature, the owner of the SEP can its price to license it, or even refuse to license it at all.

That is, of course, unless the SEP owner was part of the standards setting organization (SSO) that developed the standard in question, and had made a commitment to license that SEP on fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory (FRAND) terms.

But what does FRAND really mean? When parties can’t agree, it can take millions in legal fees and weeks of court testimony to answer the question.  And regulators around the world aren’t happy about that.