USPTO and the UK IP office agree to collaborate on policies related to standard essential patents

Two offices look to improve transparency in the fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory licensing of technical interoperability standards
Side-by-side photos of USPTO director Kathi Vidal and UKIPO CEO Adam Williams signing the standard essential patents memorandum of understanding.

A new memorandum of understanding (MOU) signed on June 3, 2024 by Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and USPTO Director Kathi Vidal and the Chief Executive Officer of the United Kingdom Intellectual Property Office (UKIPO) Adam Williams provides a framework for collaboration between the two offices on policies relating to standard essential patents (SEPs).

SEPs are patents that have been declared essential to a given technical standard. As part of the standards-setting process, patent owners may agree to license SEPs on fair, reasonable, and nondiscriminatory (FRAND) terms.

“Standards touch all aspects of modern life, including video compression, wireless communication technologies, computer connection standards, automotive technology, and more,” said Under Secretary Vidal, “This important collaboration with UKIPO will help us work together toward a fair and balanced international standard essential patent ecosystem that benefits all businesses in our two countries, including small and medium-sized enterprises and new market entrants.”

Under the terms of the agreement, the USPTO and the UKIPO will:

  • Cooperate on activities to facilitate collaboration and exchange of information on policy matters concerning SEPs, to better ensure a balanced standards ecosystem.
  • Explore means to educate small and medium-sized enterprises seeking to implement or contribute to the development of technical interoperability standards on fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory terms.
  • Examine ways of improving transparency in the fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory licensing of technical interoperability standards.
  • Engage in outreach to stakeholders to raise awareness of issues related to SEPs.
  • Discuss means to incorporate additional jurisdictions into the USPTO’s and the UKIPO’s activities concerning SEPs, including exploring a venue for such broader discussions.

The agreement will remain in effect for five years from the date of signing.

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