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EPO Announces Further Cooperation with Standards Bodies

The EPO has announced a cooperation with European Committee of Standardization (CEN) and the European Committee for Electrotechnical Standardization (CENELEC) under which the three organisations will work together to improve and disseminate knowledge about the relationship between standards and patents. The agreement builds on existing co-operation in this area between the EPO, the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) and the European Commission.

Whilst the exact nature and intended outcomes of this cooperation are not known, the comments in the EPO's statement suggest a focus on providing further information resources for inventors and researchers in fields which are, or which may be in the future, affected by standards. This can only be welcomed as the increasing growth of Internet-of-Things development causes more and more diverse areas of industry to be impacted by the need to comply with (and potentially licence patents relating to) communications standards.

For many years now, standards and patents have had an uneasy relationship, as highlighted by the spate of recent cases, particularly in the UK courts, concerning standard-essential patents ("SEPs") and FRAND licensing (see, in particular, Unwired Planet v Huawei [2018] EWCA Civ 2344 and Huawei v Conversant [2019] EWCA Civ 38).