U.S. Patent and Trademark Office releases policy statement on standards-essential patents subject to voluntary F/RAND commitments

Extensive discussions yield balanced policy
Press Release

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WASHINGTON - The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), jointly with the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division today released a Policy Statement on Remedies for Standards-Essential Patents Subject to Voluntary F/RAND Commitments. The statement makes clear that standards-essential patents (SEPs) should be treated no differently than any other patent, such that all remedies are available depending on the facts of a case.

The new statement leaves decisions on remedies for SEPs to relevant tribunals according to generally-applicable patent laws. The statement was the product of extensive consultations with stakeholders, including diversely situated business entities and trade groups, in addition to comprehensive discussions among the signatory agencies and others in the Administration.

“The new joint statement effectively takes the government’s thumb off the scale,” said Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the USPTO Andrei Iancu. “The statement is balanced and structured to incentivize technological development and growth of standards-based industries.”

A previous statement on the matter issued in 2013 had been misinterpreted to suggest that different legal rules should be applied to SEPs than are applied to other patents, limiting the remedies available when SEPs are infringed. Today’s joint statement seeks to ensure that U.S. patent law is appropriately calibrated to incentivize and protect, and not hamper, the growth of standards-based technology. Moreover, the statement sets a positive example for other jurisdictions that have sought to diminish the value of SEPs. 

Read the full policy statement.