IEEE rubber-stamps new patent policy

Information wants to be free FRAND-licensed

As expected, the IEEE has adopted a patent policy designed to reduce the scope for trolling for standards-essential technologies.

While companies contributing to IEEE standards often hold patents covering their contributions, there's always been an expectation that they would allow competitors building products under a standard to do so under “fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory” (FRAND) terms.

Over time, however, the policy's loopholes became apparent. In particular, the policy fell short in its definition of reasonable compensation, and the FRAND obligations didn't carry through to subsequent trading of patents.

With the Department of Justice endorsing the new policy last week, the IEEE wasted no time in getting the new policy through a vote.

The policy update, approved on February 8, has been welcomed by Cisco, one of a bunch of companies who co-signed a letter supporting the policy ahead of the vote.

“Today’s decision will help ensure that owners of patents required to implement standards won’t be able to use their leverage to obtain unreasonable royalties,” writes Cisco's general counsel Mark Chandler in the post. ®

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