Because the uncertainty varies among data subset 1, data subset 2, and data subset 3, we decided to separate them in order to observe what the difference is against putting them together.
Declaration of 5G US SEPs
As shown in the following figure, we listed 3 tables with different data scopes side-by-side for simultaneous comparison. The table on the left covers declared US/CN/PCT patents; the table in the center covers a combination of data subsets 1 to 3 (US patents only) as defined above; and the table on the right covers data subset 1.
Via comparing the left-sided table and central table, it reveals some changes in position for some companies, e.g. both Huawei and ZTE decreases the overall quantity of the declared patents and corresponding ranking in the central table. By contrast, the other leading companies in the left table remains similar ranking position in the central table. The data in these 2 tables reflects SEP owners have different strategies and invested resources for their SEP portfolio deployment on countries.
Furthermore, in a scenario about the SEP license negotiation, it’s obviously helpful to seek consensus on the FRAND royalty rate if the SEP data is transparent enough and is eliminated uncertainty as much as possible. Specifically, the ranking information revealed within the right-sided table is more reliable and more precise than the other 2 tables, because the right-sided table covers only the declared patents which having the lowest uncertainty based on our working assumption in this article. Even though, it should be carefully noted that the information retrieved from the data could be a quick reference instead of replacing due diligence in detail by domain experts.
In addition, by observing the ratio of patent families in the data subset 1 over the data subsets 1-3 (in this article, we only take the top 10 companies based on declared US SEP families as an example), the statistics reveals which companies intend to declare their SEP portfolio with less uncertainty or more uncertainty. In fact, it’s not a problem either correct or wrong, but a decision based on what patents the companies owned and on the timing, because the ETSI IPR Policy does not limit the legal status of “any patent”. In summary, the data reflects fact for several interpretations, e.g.
The companies’ intention to declare patents with different uncertainties;
Current status about composition of the declared patent portfolio of each company, e.g. pending patents vs. issued patents.
Declaration of 5G CN SEPs
Similarly, by observing the declaration data of 5G CN SEPs in the following table, it becomes evident that companies from Korea, Europe, the United States, and Japan own more issued patents than other companies. At the same time, it also becomes clear that Chinese companies, e.g., Huawei, ZTE, and CATT, have been competing aggressively in the 5G race, since they have declared a huge number of pending patents, even though the number of issued patents declared is smaller.
For stakeholders in the SEP eco-system, e.g., SEP owners, SEP investors, or SEP implementers, the information derived from this SEP declaration data can be a critical factor in various business decisions.
For example, with this information, an SEP owner can gain a better understanding of the industry position and/or the performance of the collaboration between R&D and IP, as well find support for the selection of R&D topics and allocation of resources. As for SEP investors, they can use this information to know who owns what SEPs, which can be important for their investment evaluation. And SEP implementers can accelerate the time-to-market of commercialization based on SEP licenses and estimate FRAND royalty more precisely.
It’s a pity that the over-declaration phenomenon still exists in the ETSI database so that the ranking information only considering quantity might not be practical and convincing enough for supporting various business decisions. Therefore, we propose simple working assumptions to eliminating some uncertainty from the over-declaration phenomenon to get more reliable information. From a data perspective, it’s a start but definitely not the end, and we will continue to research SEP data in order to find more meaningful and useful information.
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 Stitzing, Robin and Sääskilahti, Pekka and Royer, Jimmy and Van Audenrode, Marc, Over-Declaration of Standard Essential Patents and Determinants of Essentiality (October 27, 2017). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2951617 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2951617
 Cambridge Handbook of Technical Standardization Law – Antitrust, Competition and Patent Law ( Jorge L. Contreras, ed., 2017 Forthcoming)
 Wilson, Kelce, Designing a Standard Essential Patent (SEP) Program (July 12, 2018). les Nouvelles – Journal of the Licensing Executives Society, Volume LIII No. 3, September 2018. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3212735
 Matthew Noble, Jane Mutimear and Richard Vary, Determining which companies are leading the 5G race, IAM Issue 96, published by Globe Business Media Group
 Joff Wild, Patent quality, not quantity, is what really counts when it comes to standards essentiality, IAM (May 6, 2019)