With the deadline approaching to submit opinions for a discussion paper, rolled out by the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) on Standard Essential Patents (SEP), Assocham has joined the fray by writing an official letter to DIPP saying any changes to current policy would severely impact ‘Make-in-India’ efforts.

“Industry seems to be extremely concerned that DIPP's paper seems to have been selective in picking issues for stakeholder response, and left out crucial and important issues like “unwilling licensees” and “patent hold out” form its list of questions. Some of the issues for which responses are invited have already been tried and tested in the recently changed IPR policy of IEEE,” said the letter which was also seen by BusinessLine . An SEP is a patent that a manufacturer needs to use to manufacture a product that’s based on certain standards.

New IPR policy

The new IPR policy of the US’ Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) standards body mandates members to agree to a pre-determined royalty, license their inventions at the “smallest saleable unit level” than at the “handset level”, and not be able to seek Injunctive relief at any stage in case of “hold out” situation (manufacturer continues to use patents without paying royalties), thereby diluting the value of the inventions.

According to one study, the number of Letter of Assurance, a document stating the regarding ownership, enforcement, or licensing of essential patents for a specifically referenced IEEE Standard, has gone down since the new policy was implemented by the IEEE. Assocham is trying to raise the same issue with DIPP through the letter.

The letter went on to say that “if such changes are forcefully activated in India it will demolish India's vision to elevate its technological capabilities by preventing the Indian OEMs from investing in R&D, design and move up the value chain by creating their own SEPs (standard essential patents).”

It is widely understood and accepted that only way to increase the local value in handsets and smartphone’s is to motivate the local companies with a right policy structure and framework so that they invest more in R&D and Design. “Our Prime Minister has rightly acknowledged this importance and, therefore, has been emphasising on ‘Design in India’, which is an integral part of ‘Make in India’.”

Assocham says the DIPP discussion paper is igniting discussions that have already been debated and closed by TSDSI (Telecom Standards Development Institute of India).

“TSDSI while conceptualising its IPR policy weighted various pros and cons besides having thread bare discussions on the provisions of the policy which are in the best interest of India.

“Accordingly, it came out with the policy that is aligned to the largest SSOs/SDOs such as ETSI, ITU, 3GPP etc.”