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Apple asks European standards body for more transparency on FRAND licensing

Amar Toor, @amartoo

With its legal battles intensifying across the globe, Apple has appealed to the European Telecommunications Standards Institute, calling for a more consistent approach to the licensing of essential patents. In a letter dated November 11th, Cupertino outlined its issues with today's licensing system, with a particular emphasis on patents licensed on a FRAND basis. According to Apple, the entire telecom industry lacks a "consistent policy" on FRAND licensing -- an issue that, not surprisingly, is especially critical to the company's ongoing court cases in Europe. Because of this inconsistency, Apple argues, patent royalty rates are often negotiated arbitrarily and in secret, resulting in abnormally high rates and, of course, plenty of lawsuits. "It is apparent that our industry suffers from a lack of consistent adherence to FRAND principles in the cellular standards arena," wrote Bruce Watrous, Apple's head of intellectual property. The company went on to suggest an alternative solution, calling for ETSI to establish "appropriate" FRAND licensing rates for companies to follow, adding that these rates should be limited to an industry-wide standard, and that companies should be barred from using industry-essential patents to force injunctions.

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