Microsoft issued a statement today in support of industry standards and the licensing of the essential patents that go into those standards. This echos a recent letter sent by Apple to the European Telecommunications Standards Institute that touched on the lack of licensing standards and the lawsuits that result from the situation.
The heart of the issue revolves around FRAND (fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory) patents that included as essential technologies for industry standards. Without clear guidelines on which patents are considered FRAND patents and what fair licensing agreements should include, the details are destined for the legal system. Licensing rates and whether they apply to components or finished products are just some of the issues involved.
In it’s statement, Microsoft committed to the following:
- Microsoft will always adhere to the promises it has made to standards organizations to make its standard essential patents available on fair, reasonable and nondiscriminatory terms.
- This means that Microsoft will not seek an injunction or exclusion order against any firm on the basis of those essential patents.
- This also means that Microsoft will make those essential patents available for license to other firms without requiring that those firms license their patents back to Microsoft, except for any patents they have that are essential to the same industry standard.
- Microsoft will not transfer those standard essential patents to any other firm unless that firm agrees to adhere to the points outlined above.