Europe has long been a leader in the development and deployment of both open standards as well as the technologies these standards drive. Everyone agrees that open standards play a critical role in interoperability, innovation, and competition. Open standards enabled me to build an ICT consulting firm in Alicante, Spain that now has a global footprint. I am dismayed by the fact Europe’s leaders appear ready to turn their backs on a cornerstone of European innovation.
Behind closed doors, a select group of large patent holders are trying to convince the European Commission to allow them to break their promises to license patents in open standards under fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory terms. The result would undermine the entire concept of open standards. Without any input from other industries, SMEs, or the open source community, the European Commission is planning to allow this – and the only reason we know about it is because the changes were leaked to the media.
Companies like Qualcomm, Nokia, and Fraunhofer IIS (notorious for MP3 Player patent trolling) have pushed the Commission to let them charge radically different prices for their open standards patents based on how the standard is being used For example, the cost of a licensing patents may depend on whether the product is meant for consumers or professional users.
Around the world, every major competition regulator that has reviewed this kind of behavior has raised competition concerns (US FTC, Korean FTC, and more) . The European’s Commision’s breaking with global norms would threaten the rollout of 5G, Europe’s emerging IoT industry, and the future of open standards themselves.
Yet, the European Commission is still trying to rush out new rules to legalize this dangerous patent abuse in the next few weeks. Please help stop this by demanding that the Commission listen to the voices of European SME’s and other innovators, not just giant patent holders and patent trolls. Your signature on this this letter to the European Commission (before April 10th!) will make a big difference in helping to protect truly open standards.
Fernando Guerrero is president of the board at SolidQ, a global provider of consulting, mentoring, and training services for data management, business intelligence, and analytics. Based in Spain, Fernando has been deeply involved in technology since 1976. He has spent the last thirteen years as a reference shareholder, CEO, president, and board member of SolidQ.