Patent Pledges
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Patent Pledges

Global Perspectives on Patent Law’s Private Ordering Frontier

Edited by Jorge L. Contreras and Meredith Jacob

Patent holders are increasingly making voluntary, public commitments to limit the enforcement and other exploitation of their patents. The best-known form of patent pledge is the so-called FRAND commitment, in which a patent holder commits to license patents to manufacturers of standardized products on terms that are “fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory.” Patent pledges have also been appearing in fields well beyond technical standard-setting, including open source software, green technology and the biosciences. This book explores the motivations, legal characteristics and policy goals of these increasingly popular private ordering tools.
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Chapter 2: Unilateral patent pledges: motivations and key principles

Duane R. Valz

Abstract

The patent landscape over the past 15 years has been characterized by two major trends: (1) litigation and aggressive licensing activity by non-practicing entities (NPEs), and (2) litigation conducted by or on behalf of operating companies in high stakes emerging industry segments, such as mobile computing. Within this period of time, we have also seen the emergence of unilateral patent pledges, as described in this volume. This chapter offers a view on the motivations for patent pledges, particularly free patent pledges, paying particular attention to Google’s Open Patent Non-Assertion Pledge. The chapter also briefly addresses how patent pledges are distinguished from, yet complement, networked community cross licenses, another emerging development over the past 15 years. Finally, this chapter presents normative views on certain issues presented by unilateral patent pledges, in view of the fact that such pledges have not to date been tested in litigation.

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