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Letter: Brussels Patent Revamp Imperils Europe’s Mobile Industry

In “What the great EU patent fight means for global competition” (Opinion, August 24), Brooke Masters is absolutely correct to say that regulatory intervention on this issue from Brussels, or any government, could be counterproductive. The EU’s radical proposals, which were unveiled this year, would disrupt the existing balance between innovators and device manufacturers, such as those in the smartphone and automotive industries.

More importantly, it is likely to cause the European mobile industry to wither — as happened with chip manufacturing over the past decade. The system for developing global, standardised technologies, including those that drive our smartphones, is a wonder of collaboration and competition that delivers ever more advanced, connected and affordable products to billions of consumers worldwide. Much of this tech, protected by patents that innovators around the world have declared as standard essential, supports a global engine of mobile technologies and services. Quite simply, this system cannot now be undermined to suit the interests of a few deep-pocketed manufacturers. The reality is that the vast majority of license agreements involving standard essential patents are done through amicable, commercial negotiations, far removed from any courtroom. Of the more than 20 new licence agreements that my company, one of the leading contributors to 5G technology, has signed since early 2021, just one involved litigation and the case settled relatively quickly.

These numbers do not include the many agreements that we are party to with the world’s leading auto manufacturers through our licensing partner. In just six years, this partner has closed patent deals with an estimated 85 per cent of the connected car market. It recently launched its 5G programme, with Mercedes-Benz already on board as the first licensee. Where any friction does exist, market-based solutions represent the best way forward. Legislators across the world must tread extremely carefully when intervening in such a powerful driver of the world’s economy.

Source : FT

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