Innovation

Auto, Tech Industries Have Competing Patent Guidelines For Autonomous Tech

self-driving car

Guidelines for patents on self-driving car technology and internet-enabled vehicles have put tech firms and automakers at odds, according to a report by Reuters.

The obvious disparities between car makers like BMW and Daimler and tech firms like Qualcomm and Nokia show the future potential for legal problems and antitrust lawsuits regarding the guidelines.

Qualcomm was ordered in May by a U.S. court to completely overhaul business practices because it suppressed competition in the mobile phone market by saying it would cut supplies off, and also by asking for excessive licensing fees.

The guidelines by the two industries differ in the way licensing fees get calculated, and the rules for using patented tech. Both the European Committee for Standardization (CEN) and the European Committee for Electrotechnical Standardization (CENELEC) have supported the guidelines.

Even through the guidelines are voluntary, no broader agreement means that disputes can arise rapidly. Lobbying group IP Europe, which includes Nokia and telecom firms like Ericsson and Orange, said the guidelines are meant to be in support of small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs), and to aid them while they develop new technologies.

“I believe these principles and guidance will help [SMBs] better understand the cellular licensing process, making it easier for them to participate in cellular standards development and licensing,” IP Europe SME Chair Ruben Bonet said.

The other set of guidelines, put forth by 56 auto outfits that include Honda, Renault, BMW and others, propose a code that introduces six principles to figure out whether licensing fees for necessary patents are being doled out in a fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory way.

“Companies can look at both guidelines and make their decisions,” said Michael Sax, chairman of The App Association.

Daimler and auto supplier Continental, as well as auto parts company Valeo have complained to EU antitrust regulators about Nokia, and the way the company’s codes cover patents for essential tech in smart and self-driving cars.

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