What are Standard Essential Patents (SEP)?

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There is a possible crisis brewing in India over the manner in which certain technology companies are wielding ‘standard essential patents’ (SEP) against the telecom manufacturing sector in India.

About Standard Essential Patents (SEP)

  • A SEP is a patent granted for a technological invention which is essential for the implementation and working of a standard.

What is a Standard?

  • A ‘standard’ is a set of technical requirements or agreed technical descriptions which cover ideas, products, or services and make sure that technologies interact and work together.
  • Standards can be adopted worldwide, regionally or even nationally.
  • It is usually in the interest of industrial players to create products that comply with standards.
  • One example of a widely used standard is the A4 size for sheets of paper.
  • Patents which are essentialto a standard and have been adopted by a Standard Setting Organization (SSO) are known as SEPs.
  • SSOs are either governmental, quasigovernmental,or a private group of independently governed industry associations.
  • SSOs set, develop, coordinate, interpret, and maintain standards.
  • Industry participants can collaborate on a single technical solution because of such standards.
  • When a patent is acknowledged by the SSO and designated as a SEP, manufacturers canonly produce their goods in the market after first acquiring a licenseunder the SEP.
  • From an antitrust standpoint, the lack of any competing technology grants the SEP holder a monopolistic right over the SEP.
  • Consequently, it is impossible to produce products that comply with standards without using technologies that are covered by one or more SEPs.
  • SEPs are common in the mobile telephony and telecommunications industry, a sector which is highly standardised due mainly to the need for interoperability between mobile devices.

Q1: What is a patent?

A patent is an exclusive right granted for an invention, which is a product or a process that provides, in general, a new way of doing something, or offers a new technical solution to a problem. To get a patent, technical information about the invention must be disclosed to the public in a patent application.

Source:The judiciary’s shadow over standard essential patents