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 14: Open innovation and patent pledges

Mariateresa Maggiolino and Maria Lillà Montagnani


Driven in part by the enthusiasm spurred by the Open Innovation (OI) movement, individual patentees and larger corporations holding valuable patent portfolios have started expanding access to those patents. Whether in the open source software environment or in the fields of biosciences and green technologies, in recent years patent holders have been uniformizing the terms and conditions of their pledges in order to facilitate the access to and use of their patents. Patent pledges have thus become the keys to open patents. However, the way in which patented knowledge is opened varies according to the pledges and covenants that are adopted. Some pledges have contributed to create large “clubs of patentees” that are reciprocally committed to share their patents, but are closed toward the non-members. Other pledges have set the grounds to make patents open toward whoever is interested in them, on the main condition that this unknown re-user will make her own follow-on innovation be equally open. By analyzing the characteristics of OI systems and the cases of patent pledges that open patented inventions, this chapter seeks to illustrate how and when patent pledges fit within the wider realm of open innovation.

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