Professor Blind and IPlytics CEO Tim Pohlmann discuss at the Standards Your Innovation Bridge Conference in Brussels

 

Professor Blind and IPlytics CEO Tim Pohlmann were invited speakers at the first EU Conference On Standards: Your Innovation Bridge hosted and organized by CEN/CENELEC in Brussels. The goal of the conference was bringing together experts from industry, research and policy organizations to explore and discuss the role of standards and patents in research and innovation. Several speakers presented their experiences in linking the patent and standard world to show how each one is benefiting from the other. Professor Blind Chairman of CEN-CENELEC STAIR, moderated Breakout Session 4 Horizon2020 and discussed how standards and innovation relate in the closing expert panel. The discussions revealed that standards and patents are two different tools with different goals and strengths. Knowing when to use which is key in understanding how to monetise research and development expenditures. In this regard IPlytics CEO Tim Pohlmann held a presentation on the topic: “Understanding the Interplay of Patents & Standards to Leverage Market Potential“.

Standards Your Innovation Bridge Conference Tim Pohlmann, Ged Owens and Laurent Tonnelier

Standards Your Innovation Bridge Conference (l. to r. Tim Pohlmann IPlytics GmbH, Ged Owens EPO and Laurent Tonnelier mobilead)

In the follow-up panel discussion Ged Owens from the European Patent Office and Laurent Tonnelier from mobilead discussed with Tim Pohlmann the future perspectives on the interplay of IPR and standards. Pohlmann’s presentation revealed that patents and standards more and more overlap. In this regard the number of standard essential patents has not only been increasing, but develops to be relevant for sectors beyond information and communication technologies (ICT). In view of the industry 4.0 (Internet of Things), companies are more and more challenged by critical technology investment decisions that concern standards and patents at the same time. In order to make the right technology investment decisions, an innovative company needs to identify which technologies will be relevant in the future, which technologies are protected by intellectual property rights and which standards or specifications are to be adopted. In this regard Laurent Tonnelier stated that “standard setting initiatives are mirrors of how technology will look like in the future. Very often companies participate in standard setting projects that are unrelated from their todays core businesses. This interest in developing a standard reflects a company’s interest in future technologies and related product markets.” Ged Owens further noted that “patenting and standardization are both tools to foster innovation”.

IPlytics is a Berlin based company that offers an online based patent analytics platform tool to analyze market developments, technology trends and a company’s competitive position for patenting and standardization. IPlytics Platform integrates patent analysis, patent valuations, patent mapping, patent landscaping and a mapping of technology standards and products, such as an identification of standard essential patents, patent licensing terms or patent pools. IPlytics Platform helps companies making the right R&D investment decisions by providing actionable and trustworthy insights on relevant IP assets.

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EURAS Conference 2014

Once again the European standardization community met at the EURAS conference to discuss recent developments within the field of standardization. This years’ EURAS was held in Serbia under the theme ‘Cooperation among standardisation organisations and the scientific and academic community’. The conference was kindly hosted by the Faculty of Organizational Science of the University of Belgrade which provided plenty of opportunity for discussing standardization issues in Eastern Europe.

The chair of Innovation Economics from the TU-Berlin was well represented. Michel Tolksdorf, Anne-Marie Großmann, and Sören Simon Petersen chaired different sessions at the conference and presented their current work. Jo-Ann Müller additionally delivered an invited speech covering the first results of the German Standardization Panel. Besides that Luisa Lazina and Julius Rauber, from the same chair, presented their actual research as well.

Jo-Ann Müller presenting at the EURAS

Jo-Ann Müller presenting at the EURAS conference in Belgrade

The overall resume of this year’s conference was that the incentives, benefits and drawbacks of organizations to be actively or passively involved in standardization need closer attention, both in theory and in practice at the standards developing organizations. The themes varied from regulation and standardization in general up to the analysis of standardization network. Once again the conference highlighted the relevance of standardization research and showed that the European research community is alive and well.

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Standards education essential for the western world to stay competitive compared with Asia

This was a statement at a panel on standards education at the 8th international IEEE-SIIT conference which took place 24-26 September 2013 in Sophia Antipolis, France. The panelists included Yatin Trivedi, Chair of the IEEE Standards Education Committee, Synopsys, US, Dr. Simone Wurster, TU Berlin, Doede Bakker, Leader of the CEN/CENELEC/ESTI Joint WG on Education about Standardisation, BE and Michael Wood, President of Capitol College, US.

Panel discussions pointed out the need for standards education and appropriate programmes to attract the potential target groups on undergraduate and graduate level. To stress the importance of standardisation skills in the global market and the use of appropriate standardisation instruments in innovation management, work from TU Berlin’s researchers Prof. Knut Blind and Dr. Stephan Gauch was quoted during the panel. In a paper on the nanotechnology industry the two researchers showed the importance of standards for a whole national industry with regard to an attractive positioning in markets for new technologies.

As an example for new and interesting standards education tools the Durch researcher Dr. Tineke Egyedi presented the standardisation game ‘The Sky is the Limit’. ‘The Sky is the Limit’ simulates standardisation processes for flying cars. It raises awareness for the interplay between standards and innovation as well as different standardisation strategies. A number of conference attendees tested the game and their feedback was excellent. Lecturers involved in standards education should keep the game in mind.

Besides the participation of a researcher from TU Berlin in the panel, Dr. Simone Wurster, Ellen Filipovic and Sebastian Fischer gave three presentations at the conference about born global standards establishers, the development of the public safety standard TETRA and corporate global standardisation strategies for the management of the Electric Vehicle Ecosystem. Further information is available at http://ieee-siit.org/program/.

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Standardization in practise at the Daimler Standardization Meeting 2013 / Das Fachgebiet Innovationsökonomie (FG Inno) „beim Daimler“: Konzernnormungstreffen 2013

Apart from science the researchers at the Chair of Innovation Economics are also concerned with current practise of standardization. This is why Prof. Dr. Knut Blind and his PhD students Luisa Lazina (Volkswagen AG), Ellen Filipovic (Daimler AG), Agnes Ploschka (BoschRexroth AG) and Anne-Marie Großmann (TU Berlin) were taking part in the third Daimler Company Standardization Meeting in Sindelfingen. Under the header “Standardization for Daimler 2020” the Daimler AG representatives stressed that standardization work for the automotive industry remains of high importance which is even more so for the company. Mr. Behr, standardization representative of Daimler AG, also hinted at the strategic importance of standardization activities: with standards it is not only possible to conduct politics but they also set the state of the art essential for product liability. And who is not interested in high security requirements for automobiles?

Together with managers of the Daimler AG Prof. Dr. Blind took part in the Podium discussion “Key Role of Managers”. Particular emphasis was on the stress ratio between the desired standardization participation from managers and the time available from standardization experts. This stems from the background that participation in standardization is often paired with high monetary and time investments. Prof. Dr. Blind however stressed the importance of participating in standardization as its topics are often the focus of innovations of today and tomorrow. Apart from talks and the podium discussion also the new Daimler Arocs off-road Truck as well as the new S-Class was introduced. Further a diverse range of information stalls was inviting the visitors to look at a number of company standardization aspects further. Anne-Marie Großmann was introducing the analysis of the company standardization network as well as the results of a survey conducted among the users of company standards. In the afternoon the standardization experts were encouraged to discuss current issues in standardization activities in three workshops.

 

Neben der Wissenschaft befassen sich die Forscher am FG Inno auch mit der aktuellen Praxis. So nahmen Prof. Dr. Knut Blind sowie die Doktorandinnen Luisa Lazina (Volkswagen AG), Ellen Filipovic (Daimler AG), Agnes Ploschka (Bosch Rexroth AG) und Anne-Marie Großmann (TU Berlin) letzte Woche am 3. Daimler Konzernnormungstreffen in Sindelfingen teil. Unter dem Motto „Standardisierung für Daimler 2020“ wurde seitens der Daimler AG darauf hingewiesen, dass die Normungsarbeit für die Automobilindustrie im Allgemeinen und das Unternehmen im Speziellen weiterhin von besonderer Bedeutung sein wird. Herr Behr, Konzernnormungsbeauftragter der Daimler AG, nannte auch die strategische Bedeutung der Normung: Mit Normung wird nicht nur Politik gemacht, sondern auch der Stand der Technik festgelegt, welcher im Zusammenhang mit der Produkthaftung essentiell ist. Und wer wünscht sich nicht, dass besonders hohe Sicherheitsanforderungen an Automobile gestellt werden?

 

Zusammen mit Führungskräften der Daimler AG nahm Prof. Dr. Blind an einer Podiumsdiskussion „Schlüsselrolle der Führungskräfte“ teil. Das Spannungsverhältnis zwischen der gewünschten Normungsteilnahme von Seiten der Führungskräfte und der verfügbaren Zeit der Normungsexperten wurde hierbei in den Vordergrund gestellt. Hintergrund ist, dass die Teilnahme an der Normung häufig mit hohem Kosten- und Zeitaufwand einhergeht und somit erschwert wird. Prof. Dr. Blind betonte hierbei aber die Bedeutung der Teilnahme an der Normung, da sich die Themen nicht selten auf die Innovationsschwerpunkte von heute und morgen fokussieren. Neben Vorträgen und der Podiumsdiskussion wurden auch der neue Daimler Arocs Gelände Truck sowie die neue S-Klasse vorgestellt. Außerdem luden diverse Informationsstände die Besucher des Treffens dazu ein, zum Beispiel einzelne Werknormen näher zu betrachten. Anne-Marie Großmann stellte hierbei eine Analyse des Werknormennetzwerkes sowie Umfrageergebnisse zur Werknormung vor. Nachmittags wurden die Standardisierungsexperten aufgefordert in drei Workshops aktuelle Fragestellungen der Standardisierungsaktivitäten zu diskutieren.

 

Luisa Lazina, Anne-Marie Großmann, Ellen Filipovic

Luisa Lazina, Anne-Marie Großmann, Ellen Filipovic (c) Daimler AG

Dr. Andreas Docter, Prof. Dr. Knut Blind und Egon Behr in der Podiumsrunde

Dr. Andreas Docter, Prof. Dr. Knut Blind and Egon Behr at the podium discussion (c) Daimler AG

Anne-Marie Großmann erklärt den Informationsstand „Perspektiven für die Werknormung“

Anne-Marie Großmann explains the information stall „Perspectives for Company Standards“ (c) Daimler AG

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Ellen Filipovic and Luisa Lazina in front of the Arocs Truck (c) Daimler AG

 

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Experts on Standardization meet in Brussels – EURAS 2013

Between June, 24th and June, 26th 2013, the 18th EURAS Conference in Brussels, Belgium took place. The main topic in 2013 was the impact of standards on the European competitiveness by reducing barriers to trade or regulations as well as education on standardization in order to “spread the word of standardization”. Researchers from a big variety of science fields, such as economics, business management, engineering as well as political sciences, participated at the conference and presented their work. Among them were four scientist of the Technical University Berlin, namely Professor Knut Blind, Dr. Simone Wurster, Anne-Marie Großmann and Julius Rauber. During the conference, it became clear that there is further research to be done even if big progress was made in understanding the meaning of standards and standardization to companies and other stakeholders. Especially quantitative analyses still lacks a broader database in order to analyze standard-related research topics in more detail. Furthermore, it seemed to be common sense among the participants that companies have to become even more aware of the chances and benefits of standardization. The final presentation picked up this issue since it was about a superordinate roadmap for education on standardization. All in all it was a very interesting and inspiring conference which illustrated once again the rising importance and meaning of standards and standardization for many aspects of society as well as economy.
For further details on the EURAS conference please follow this link:
http://www.euras.org/euras-2013

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ITU Patent Roundtable

The ITU (International Telecommunication Union) has for the first time organized a public event to discuss the tensions on the interplay of IPR and standards (ITU Patent Roundtable). The ITU is a UN agency which is among other standard projects responsible for the H.264 video coding standard (MPEG4). The ITU invited all interested parties, mostly from the ICT industry (Apple, Motorola Mobility, Qualcomm, Microsoft, Google, Nokia, Ericsson, etc.) but also from international organizations (EPO, USPTO, WIPO, EC, DOJ or FTC) and academia (Knut Blind, Tim Pohlmann, Rudi Bekkers and Robert Barr) to discuss recent disputes on SEPs (standard essential patents) and F/RAND licensing. In light of recent litigation on SEPs (Apple vs. Samsung, Motorola vs. Microsoft and Motorola vs. Apple) the main topic of the conference was to discuss if the F/RAND licensing of SEPs is a broken system.

Injunctive relief and SEPs:

One major topic dealt with the question if SEP holders should be allowed to impose injunctions if possible licensors are not willing to pay a reasonable license. The notion of antitrust authorities (DOJ or the DG competition) is very clear: A F/RAND commitment should be a constrain to injunctive relief. Someone who commits to license under F/RAND and then refuses to licenses just requests higher fees. Injunctions would thus be a vehicle to increase royalties. SSOs which select patented technologies as an industry wide standards give the right holder a certain market power. In the view of antitrust authorities the market for a SEP license is a market of its own. Thus, SEP holders would have a monopoly market power. F/RAND is a mechanism to constrain market power. While F/RAND may constrain injunctive release the question is how to constrain? The antitrust authorities further stated that circumstances where injunctions are possible should be narrow and only be an option to licensees that are not willing to pay at all. Also, even the possibility to impose an injunction could increase royalties even in the absence of a court decision. These fees would then also be subject to an anticompetitive price.

While these statements seem to leave little room for interpretation the situation is often more complex. First of all firms that declare their essential patents to SSOs (Standard Setting Organizations) in most cases do not commit to license under F/RAND but only state that they are prepared to grant a license or that they will enter license negotiations in good faith to offer FRAND terms (e.g. as to the ETSI IPR policy). While in the US most courts would not allow injunctions for SEPs, the situation in Europe is very different (see the injunctive relief decision of a Munich court in the case of Motorola vs. Apple). It seems that there is no legal certainty and courts may decide on a case by case basis which may even result in different decisions between countries. Some of the participating firms requested more precise IPR policies of SSOs to answer the question: To what extent can we say there is willingness to enter negotiations? It must be more than a statement it must be a FRAND offer! However the fear is that some companies would not participate in standard setting when the enforcement of SEPs is limited upfront.

The discussion showed that firms face a complex system of different SSOs and different policies. There seemed to be a need for a basic level of common understanding since it is often difficult to interpret what SSOs’ IPR policies actually mean.

Current situation and future development of F/RAND:

The second part of the discussion dealt with the F/RAND system in general. Most of the participants actually agreed that the F/RAND system is not a broken system and works very well even though F/RAND may not be a very specific contract. There are many examples of successful license agreements under the name of F/RAND and many examples of successful standard setting in light of high patenting (GSM, UMTS, WiFi, etc.). However, there are many recent challenges due to drastic changes of the business environment. While standard setting in the early 90ies was done by a couple of big players that all had similar incentives and business models, the market has changed in recent years. New market participants who license SEPs may not earn money from selling devices to payments from phone calls, but make returns from patent license, advertisement or constructive applications. It is thus increasingly difficult to determine a reasonable license and to determine if fees should be measured to a unit, a component or a whole product. Many firms however demand for a common understanding of F/RAND. The opinion of the ITU is to not intervene in bilateral license negotiation but that a clarification could be a significant contribution of ITU. The ITU wants to take a lead to promote effective RAND and to provide a neutral platform to facilitate discussion on F/RAND where all members have equal rights.

Reasons for an increase of SEP litigation:

Litigation is very costly for all involved parties and will only be pursued if the technology or product in question has a certain value. One reason of increasing SEP litigation thus is the increasing importance of ICT standards. ICT products increasingly rely on technology standards (e.g. the UMTS, LTE standard or the Wifi standard to allow faster internet connections) to ensure interoperability. Thus technology components often indispensably work together and as a result may even lead to an interrelation of SEP and non-SEP.

In recent years standards setting has evolved from a mere coordination on common specifications to the joint development of complex technology platforms. Firms promote their best and most innovative solution to be accepted as an industry wide standard and SSOs select best quality technologies (patents). Competition thus also takes place at the standard setting level. Increasing competition may result in more litigation.

Another reason is the increase of essential patents and the increase of multiple rights holders in general. However, in most cases the increase of essential patents is due to an increased in the number of standards that are subject to essential patents, not to an increase of patents per standard. This means there is an increasing demand for technology standards in the market.

A further reason is that SEPs are increasingly transferred due to trades of patents, patent portfolios (Nortel auction) or whole companies (Motorola Mobility). Recent examples are: Ericsson sold SEPs to Research in Motion, Nokia sold SEPs to MOSAID, Sisvel and Vringo, IPcom acquired Robert Bosch SEPs, Highpoint acquired SEPs originating from AT&T, and HTC acquired SEPs from both Google and Hewlett Packard. Acacia acquired SEPs from Adaptix, Intel acquired SEPs(?) from InterDigital, and Apple acquired SEPs from Novell. Intellectual Ventures teamed with NVIDIA to acquire SEPs from IPWireless.

The change of patent ownership changes cross licensing agreements. Firms may find themselves in the position to suddenly pay more for the same patents compared what they have been paying before. Cases of disagreement may lead to litigation (Motorola vs. Microsoft).

Furthermore the ICT industry is subject to short product life cycles where market players and market shares have changed in a quick manner in the last ten years. Standard setting however is a long term process. In many cases incumbent firms hold the largest number of SEPs, while their market share decreases (e.g. Nokia, Microsoft, etc.). Litigation may thus be subject to a clash of long terms versus short term investments.

The main question however remains: Is patent litigation a sign for increasing competition or a sign for future problems?

The workshop triggered some very interesting and important discussions, however failed to really formulate the problems that may be at play. It has however to be mentioned that many of the participating firms are currently in litigation and are thus not able to state their opinion in public. There are many disputes, discussion and workshops to come to find the answers of many of the discussed questions.

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Best Practice on Education about Standardization: The Success Story at the Technical University of Berlin

The establishment of standardization as a new content in university curricula is quite challenging and is therefore depending on several success factor. In my article “Best Practice on Education about Standardization: The Success Story at the Technical University of Berlin” published in the IEEE Standards Education e-Magazine, Third Quarter 2012, Vol. 2, No. 3, I identify the main factors at the supply side, i.e. offering contents on standards, and on the demand side, i.e. the new requirements of employers to acquire knowhow in standardization, and elaborate then the fruitful interaction of these parameters leading to the successful positioning of this topic at the Technical University of Berlin.

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About Innovation Economics

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InnovationEconomics is going to inform about the recent activities of the Chair of Innovation Economics at the Technical University of Berlin, the Research Group Public Innovation at the Fraunhofer Institute of Open Communication Systems and the Chair of Standardisation at the Rotterdam School of Management at the Erasmus University Rotterdam. We are posting about presentations at and attendance of conferences, new publications and events and many other things.

The topics covered by these institutions encompass all innovation and standardisation related issues especially from the perspective of economics and management. We work both on specific technologies like nanotechnology, address also soft issues like services and the various dimensions of sustainability. Finally, the contents are interesting for the scientific communities, companies, institutions and policy makers.

InnovationEconomics is looking for feedback to its activities and for new ideas related to topics covered by the involved research organizations.

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