Tilburg University promotie PhD Defense

PhD Defense M. Pourrahim LLM

Date: Time: 14:00 Location: Aula

Access to Standard Essential Patents and Competition Law: Patent pools, licensing in IoT value chains and dispute resolutions

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Standard-Essential Patents (SEPs) are a crucial aspect of modern technology and play a significant role in shaping our daily lives. Picture them as the invisible glue that helps devices understand each other's language, making your gadgets work harmoniously. These patents are closely tied to Standards Developing Organizations (SDOs) like IEEE and ETSI and hold immense importance in ensuring interoperability, innovation, and fair competition in the world of technology.

At their core, SEPs refer to patents that cover technologies that have become essential for implementing industry standards. While patents provide legal protection for inventors, standards establish a common ground for technology. This mixture can sometimes lead to disputes and litigation over licensing fees and usage. This is where competition law steps in to ensure that companies do not abuse their patent power by monopolising the market or charging excessive fees.

When companies contribute their patented technology to a standard, they commit to licensing these patents to others on fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory (FRAND) terms – ensuring that the licensing process is fair and accessible to all, without discrimination. This commitment ensures a level playing field and prevents a single company from monopolising the technology market.

In her research, Maryam Pourrahim explored the realm of SEPs, conducting a thorough analysis of EU and US antitrust laws. She investigated patent pooling to understand how EU competition law can support it. Additionally, she delved into SEP licensing within the automotive industry's complex value chain, addressing questions about licensing responsibility and pricing. She proposed a new approach to these issues. Furthermore, she examined the challenges of seeking injunctions for SEP holders bound by FRAND commitments and compared arbitration and court proceedings for resolving FRAND disputes.

The research underscores the importance of balancing innovators' rights with those of implementers and avoiding excessive regulation that could hinder innovation. Pourrahim recommends studying jurisdictions like China, where SEPs significantly influence technological landscapes.