Yesterday, it was announced that the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers voted to approve amendments to its patent policy. The IEEE is a body that adopts technology standards, the most prominent being the 802.11 Wi-Fi standards, and as part of its standards-setting role, it implements rules to prevent participants in the standards-setting process from using patents to delay adoption of the standard. The amended bylaws are designed to clarify how these so-called “standards-essential” patents may be used fairly and to prevent unfair uses of such patents.
The following can be attributed to Charles Duan, Director of the Patent Reform Project at Public Knowledge:
“Technology standards are the fundamental framework upon which all sorts of technologies are built, from cell phones to the internet. Companies that wield United States patents to blockade adoption of those standards may make themselves a profit in the short-run, but only at the long-term expense of the American economy, American consumers, and American progress.
“The IEEE has long sought to promote widespread adoption of its standards by curbing the abuse of standards-essential patents to hold up technology manufacturers and users, and the amended patent policy includes clear, strong rules that will further this publicly-spirited goal. Public Knowledge has similarly urged the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit to take such a public-interest approach to standards-essential patents.
“We applaud and support the IEEE's efforts to protect the public interest in advancement of technology, and hope that those efforts will serve as a model for other standards bodies.”
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