SEP and Standards Leaders Discuss Pressing Topics in San Diego 

SEP and Standards

June 23, 2023

The Annual Conference on Global Standards Leadership, held on June 15th, 2023, brought together thought leaders in standardization, intellectual property, government, and academia. Organized by Tim Pohlmann (CEO of IPlytics) and his co-founders Kirti Gupta (CSIS) and Justus Baron (Northwestern University), the conference aimed to connect policy, academia, and industry experts. Over the past 10 years, Tim, Kirti, and Justus have established themselves in the field of standards and SEPs, with Kirti organizing impactful conferences on intellectual property and standards for policymakers, and Justus creating an academic community for empirical research on SEPs and standards. The conference aimed to foster discussions, debates, and connections among professionals with diverse perspectives on promoting a world that supports common standards and the resulting innovation. 

This year’s conference took place at University of California San Diego and discussed the fundamental challenges facing the global intellectual property and standardization ecosystem. About 200 in-person and online participants discussed the most important and salient technological trends in global standardization, recent evolutions in standardization policy in different regions of the world, current challenges to the governance of standards development processes, as well as the potential reforms to the system for licensing Standard-Essential Patents (SEPs) given the EU commissions draft SEP regulation proposal.

Read on to get a detailed recap of the information-packed event, or access a recording and session presentation slides by filling out the form below.

Welcome Remarks

Tim Pohlmann (IPlytics) 

SEP and Standards Tim

During the Global Standards Leadership Conference 2023, Tim Pohlmann highlighted the importance of common standards that transcend borders. While standards development for technologies like cellular and wireless technology, video, and audio codecs has seen significant success over the past two decades, the current interconnectedness of our world goes beyond smartphones. With the rise of fully connected homes and the implementation of connectivity standards across various industries (including automotive, logistics, energy, healthcare, and military technology), Tim expressed concerns about increasing geopolitical tensions leading to geographic fragmentation. This fragmentation could hinder the communication between devices and machines across borders, limiting the potential for digital innovation. The consequences of ineffective communication extend beyond financial costs, posing a threat to the fabric of our interconnected world and disrupting vital systems. 

Keynote 1: Global Technology Trends for Standardized Technologies 

Speaker: Kavon Nasabzadeh (Ofinno) 

SEP and Standards Kavon

Ofinno CEO, Kavon Nasabzadeh, held the first keynote of the Global Standards Leadership Conference. He gave a captivating talk that illustrated how artificial intelligence (AI) influences standards development for 5G, VVC, or Wi-Fi but also on the flip side, how standards will influence the development of AI algorithms. Technology standards define the technical infrastructure for global communications networks and global supply chains. Disruptive technological innovation in fields such as AI, and many others, is only possible thanks to worldwide standardization. Today, research and development efforts of innovators around the world are pushing a common technological frontier, rather than creating duplicate, incompatible, and mutually inconsistent regional or national technological systems.  

Session 1: Salient Technological Trends for Standardized Technology and its Application 

Moderator: Kirti Gupta (CSIS)  
Speaker: Chris Hannon (USPTO), Peyton Meyer (Haynes Boone), Vishal Sharma (Metanoia), John Smee (Qualcomm) 

SEP and Standards Panel

In Session 1 of this year’s Global Standards Leadership Conference 2023, a group of technology experts discussed the latest disruptive technological innovations that have been made possible through worldwide standardization in areas such as AI, IoT, blockchain, autonomous driving, and virtual reality. The session elaborated on how the world’s innovators are working together to advance a common technological frontier rather than create conflicting regional systems. Still, there may be conflicting interest: While governments care about topics such as data protection, nationwide security and national sovereignty, companies create revenue streams across borders to maximize profits. The session discussed how technology standards play a crucial role, providing the technical foundation for communication networks and supply chains across the globe.  

Session 2: Global Standards, National Interests – Recent Standardization Policy Evolutions in Different World Regions 

Moderator: Justus Baron (Northwestern University Chicago) 
Speaker: Sukla Chandra (General Electric), Nigel Cory (IETF), Giulia Neaher (Atlantic Council) 

SEP and Standards Panel 2

Technology standards have made incredible progress in recent decades, but our world is increasingly divided by geopolitical tensions, which poses a real risk of geographic separation. This is concerning because it could limit the exponential potential for digital innovation if devices and machines can’t communicate across borders. During Session 2 of the conference, a group of standards policy experts tackled this topic head-on with a discussion on how standardization policy is evolving in different regions to balance global standards and national interests. Over the past years, an increasing number of anecdotes and misconceptions have caused political tensions and led to one-sided political decision making. The latest empirical studies, for example, provided evidence that Chinese companies increased their engagement in global standards-setting but at a rate that also reflects the Chinese product market share. The nature of global standards-setting is based on consensus decision making and therefore ensures a level playing field where not one country or company can dominate technology decisions. 

Keynote 2: The Role of IP in Technology Standards 

Speaker: Earl Nied (Veracity-IP) 

SEP and Standards Earl Nied

Earl Nied, the IP policy director at Intel for 30 years and the IPR director at ANSI for 15 years, gave a keynote about the role of IP in technology standards. In a fascinating Ted Talk-style presentation, he presented the latest connected medical devices that help diabetes patients. Billions of R&D investments go into the development of standards such as 5G, Wi-Fi or video codec which is protected by patents. Earl Nied explained that to foster the adoption of such technology standards, different SEP licensing policies like FRAND will work in different industries. 

Session 3: The Evolution of SEP Policy in View of Current Regulation Proposals 

Moderator: Tim Pohlmann (IPlytics)  
Speaker: Dave Djavaherian (PacTech Law), David Muus (Sisvel), Jim Harlan (InterDigital), Taraneh Maghame (Maghame IP) 

The EU Commission’s proposed draft SEP regulation has triggered heated debates about whether there should be a regulatory body that creates a new mandatory register of SEP disclosures and whether a newly formed competence center will help to determine FRAND rates. For the third session of the day, four SEP experts engaged in a lively discussion about the evolution of SEP policy in view of the current draft EU SEP regulation proposals. While Dave Djavaherian and Taraneh Maghame argued that the draft SEP regulation proposal is a first step in the right direction providing more guidance on FRAND determination, David Muus and Jim Harlan strongly reasoned against the proposed SEP regulation. David Muus argued that the way the draft reads the regulation could be a threat to patent pools and commonly accepted market solutions. Jim Harlan feels that the regulation will only create another layer that leads to more hold out. While the discussion was heated, all experts could at least agree that the current draft still needs improvement and is currently too vague. 

Keynote 3: The Fundamental Importance of Global Standards 

Speaker: Walter Copan (Colorado MINES) 

Walter Copan provided a summary of the fundamental importance of global standards and the role of standard-setting bodies. Copan argues that the governance and the rules of the worldwide standardization ecosystem are of fundamental importance to its legitimacy and resilience. Due process in standards development is critical to ensure that standardization decisions are objectively justified, rather than driven by narrow agendas or particular interests. Standardization processes must be transparent and open, including smaller players and societal stakeholders that are often under-represented.

Session 4: Maintaining Open and Consensus-based Standards Development amid Geopolitical and Patent Policy Divisions 

Moderator: Urska Petrovcic (Hudson Institute) 
Speaker: Harry Bims (IEEE), Etienne Chaponniere (Qualcomm), Gordon Gillerman (NIST) 

SEP and Standards Session 4

Session 4 of the Global Standards Leadership Conference 2023 provided a deep dive into the importance of preserving open and consensus-based standards development in a time where geopolitical challenges and changing patent policy are prevalent. Speakers of session 4 provided valuable insights from experts at 3GPP; IEEE, and NIST shedding light on this crucial matter. 

See you next year 

In conclusion, the Global Standards Leadership Conference 2023 successfully brought together thought leaders from various sectors to discuss pressing topics in standardization and intellectual property. The conference emphasized the need for common standards that transcend borders, considering the increasing interconnectedness of our world. Sessions and keynotes delved into technological trends, standardization policies, the role of intellectual property in technology standards, and the evolution of SEP policies. With insightful discussions and debates, the conference shed light on the challenges faced by the global standardization ecosystem and emphasized the importance of maintaining open and consensus-based standards development. As we reflect on this year’s conference, we eagerly anticipate valuable insights and discussions to come at next year’s event. 

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