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EU Parliament Votes in Favour of New SEP Regulation, Despite Intense Industry Criticism

EU Parliament Votes in Favour of New SEP Regulation, Despite Intense Industry Criticism

European News UPC 01/03/2024

The European Parliament has voted overwhelmingly in favour of a new regulation for "Standard Essential Patents" (SEPs), marking a significant step towards reshaping the licensing landscape for these critical technologies. This comes after the EU Commission's proposal was passed by the Parliament with a vote of 454 to 83.

The SEP regulation was first proposed in 2023 and was quickly met with widespread opposition from the major patent holders across Europe. The business group IP Europe issued a press release referring to the suggested new regime as being ‘harmful and unbalanced.’

The intention of the EU Commission was to address several key concerns surrounding SEPs, including:

- Increased transparency: The European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) would establish a competence centre to promote greater clarity and transparency around SEPs.

- Reduced over-declaration: The EUIPO would conduct non-binding essentiality checks to help prevent companies from claiming patents as essential when they are not truly crucial to a specific technology.

- Streamlined litigation: A mandatory, non-binding FRAND (Fair, Reasonable, and Non-Discriminatory) determination by mediators would be required before parties can resort to court proceedings before the Unified Patent Court (UPC) or national court systems.


Yet, the path to implementation is not without obstacles. The proposed regulation has faced strong opposition from patent holders. The proposed regulation would impose a potential delay on enforcement of IP rights, and this is undoubtably the most difficult aspect for patent holders to accept They argue that the regulation could stifle innovation and unfairly weaken their patent rights.

With the EU Council still needing to approve the final version of the regulation, stakeholders can expect further intense lobbying attempts in the coming weeks. The legislative process could also be affected by upcoming EU Parliament elections in June and the end of the current Commission's term in October.

While the final outcome remains uncertain, the European Parliament's vote represents a significant development in the ongoing debate surrounding SEPs. It remains to be seen how the regulation will ultimately balance the interests of innovators, implementers, and patent holders in the ever-evolving digital landscape.

Secerna’s Patent Director, Dermot Roche said: While this proposed regulation certainly has the potential to address some of the challenges associated with SEPs, it's important to carefully consider the potential negative impact on innovation. Striking the right balance between protecting intellectual property rights and fostering a fair and competitive environment is crucial for the continued advancement of technology in Europe."