Breaking: European Parliament backs SEP reform
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Breaking: European Parliament backs SEP reform

European Union flag against European Parliament

The European Parliament has voted in favour of overhauling the SEP framework, a proposal that has sparked deep division among patent owners and implementers

The European Parliament today, February 28, voted in favour of the European Commission’s plan to overhaul the framework for standard-essential patents.

Under the rules, the EUIPO, which is responsible for EU trademarks and designs, would operate a public register of SEPs, test their essentiality, and determine fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory royalties for implementers to pay patent owners.

SEP owners would be barred from enforcing their patents in court while the EUIPO-led process, mooted to take nine months, is ongoing.

The final vote was 454 in favour and 83 against, with 78 abstentions.

The proposals have caused deep divisions among SEP owners and implementers.

SEP owners believe that implementing companies, such as Lenovo and Apple, attempt to delay licensing negotiations while continuing to use the relevant SEPs. Implementers say they are charged unfair rates by SEP owners, who have benefitted from a lack of transparency by not having to make licensing terms public.

Concerns have also been raised about the role of the EUIPO, which currently has no experience of dealing with patents. However, in an interview with Managing IP, the EUIPO’s executive director João Negrão said the office could handle anything that comes its way. 

Talks will now proceed between the Council of the EU and the commission and there could yet be further roadblocks in place.

Several member states on the council have signalled their disapproval, while there is the added factor that there are European elections in June.

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