WASHINGTON — The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) today agreed to undertake joint efforts to facilitate the resolution of disputes related to standard essential patents.
Standard essential patents, or 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 and include video compression, wireless communication technologies, computer connection standards, automotive technology, and more.
“International standards, and the role of patents that are essential to them, play an important role in promoting a strong national and global economy,” said Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and USPTO Director Kathi Vidal. “The USPTO is grateful that Director General Tang recognized the USPTO’s leadership role in advancing discussions on standard essential patent policies. Our work with WIPO underscores the USPTO’s view that SEP policy is an international issue of international importance. This agreement will leverage existing resources at both the USPTO and WIPO, supporting options to enhance the efficiency of licensing of standard essential patents, and promote resolution of disputes related to those standards.”
The signing of the memorandum of understanding occurred during a meeting this week between Director Vidal and WIPO Director General Daren Tang on the sidelines of WIPO’s General Assembly in Geneva, Switzerland.
Under the terms of the agreement, the USPTO and WIPO will:
- Cooperate on activities that will lend efficiency and effectiveness to the resolution of disputed standard essential patent matters by leveraging existing WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center and USPTO resources, and
- Engage in stakeholder outreach to raise awareness of the services provided by the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center through joint USPTO-WIPO programs.
The agreement will continue in operation for five years from the date of signing.
“We appreciate all the work Director General Tang and WIPO have done in this critical area. We look forward to a successful collaboration and engaging stakeholders to ensure we shape dispute resolution that will facilitate participation and implementation of standards by all innovators including small to medium-sized enterprises,” remarked Director Vidal.
“Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) has time and again demonstrated its value in the efficient and timely resolution of commercial disputes. In the last few years, the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center has been facilitating the resolution of SEP-related disputes and the new collaboration with the USPTO is an exciting development which will contribute to improving the efficiency of standard implementation,” noted Director General Tang.