UK Standard-Essential Patents:

Introduction of a UK SEPs Resource Hub

UK Standard-Essential Patents: Introduction of a UK SEPs Resource Hub

With an expected launch date in May 2024, the UKIPO is looking to address the Standard Essential Patent (SEPs) landscape through a new online Resource Hub. The UK SEPs Resource Hub aims to be a valuable initiative for many SMEs, for which it will provide a repository of tools, guidance and other facilities designed to help navigate the SEPs ecosystem. 

An SEP is a patent that lays claim to an invention that must be implemented to comply with technical standards. As one can imagine, this area of patent law finds itself at the all too familiar cross-junction between the promotion of innovation and that of fair competition and has historically been difficult to navigate for many small and medium sized entities. 

The announced Hub is the latest non-regulatory governmental intervention on the SEPs framework and comes in response to the IPO’s own efforts in addressing SME concerns relating to SEPs. 

The Hub’s key objectives concern:

  • Helping implementers, especially SMEs, navigate and better understand the SEPs ecosystem and Fair Reasonable and Non-Discriminatory (FRAND) licensing;
  • Improving transparency in the ecosystem, both in relation to pricing and essentiality; and 
  • Achieving greater efficiency in respect of dispute resolution, including arbitration and mediation.

Furthermore, the guidance provided by the Resource Hub may include signposting to dispute resolution procedures, information on patent pools, and court processes in the event of disputes. Information related to licensing, pricing, essentiality, and dispute resolution will also be provided.

Here at Meissner Bolte UK, we welcome the IPOs new Hub as we believe this will provide much needed help. For many SME’s this can be a segment of the law that is complex and information relating to such matters can be difficult to obtain.

It is understood that the Hub precedes the commencement of a public technical consultation later in 2024/25 relating to the SEP framework and FRAND licensing. In this sense, the Hub can be understood to function as an aid to best utilise the current framework prior to potential future legislative change. It is also noted, that any legislative amendments to these areas would be part of a full and formal technical consultation. We are yet to see whether the Hub will help any UK SMEs navigating any new SEP legislation in other jurisdictions (such as the potential new law in the EU).

The UKIPO has also outlined intentions of strengthening international collaboration and has proposed ambitions for an increase in pace and visibility of discussions with other patent offices relating to global ecosystem challenges. At government level, there will be an increase in the engagement with standards developing organisations on both Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) policy and the involvement of SMEs in standardisation.