When you unpack a connected vehicle, you will find an astonishing convergence of technologies. This technological convergence, taken in concert with the existing time-battled complexities of the automotive supply chains, has created a combustible concoction of intellectual property and licensing issues. These issues are foreign to the automotive ecosystem and its traditional mode of operation. But they are poised to unsettle the industry in 2020 and well beyond.
Intellectual property issues will dominate the autonomous and connected vehicle landscape, particularly those relating to standard essential patents (SEPs)—patents essential to practice a technology. Owners of wireless communication patents are seeking increasingly to expand their SEP licensing strategies—once previously confined to the telecommunications industry—into the automotive industry. This licensing activity has raised competition, contractual, and constitutional questions about SEPs.
SEPs have garnered intense scrutiny and conflicting positions from various arms of the US and international governmental communities. Recently, the US Patent and Trademark Office, the US Department of Justice, and the National Institute of Standards and Technology issued a joint policy statement opining on whether remedies available for the infringement of any SEP, whether subject to fair, reasonable, and nondiscriminatory terms (F/RAND) commitment or not, should diverge from traditional remedies available to patent owners.
Issues in question:
Auto and technology innovators alike are following this issue closely and should be both aware of the current landscape and on alert of potential implications in the coming year.